Julie's Reviews > The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
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's review
Jul 21, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: fiction, junot-diaz
Read in August, 2010

I'm trying to get a grip on how I feel about this book. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it, either. I don't think it deserved the Pulitzer; the caliber of the writing just isn't on that level, and I struggled to find what the point of the book was beyond Oscar wanting to lose his virginity.

It felt like the book had way more telling than showing -- there wasn't much dialogue, and when there was, the dialogue had no quotation marks around it. That irritated me, but only a little bit. I'm a huge fan of dialogue; I think it adds so much more to a story.

I also didn't think we needed 100+ pages of Oscar's mother's life (and Diaz's relentness focus on her appearance, particularly the size of her breasts). He loves to go on tangents, and it became apparent pretty quickly that this book wouldn't be entirely about the title character. The other characters' backstories were kind of interesting, but after a while it bogged down the story and just seemed like Diaz was trying to fill pages. Oscar's story gets lost as Diaz recounts Oscar's mother's life history and the family curse.

Plus there were footnotes. Lots of them. Footnotes drive me nuts, but I felt like I learned a lot about the history of the Dominican Republic. (P.S. Non-Spanish speakers: there's a lot of Spanish. Not enough that you'll get lost, but enough to make me glad I speak the language.)

That being said, the characters and story (which, it should be said, is depressing as hell) were enough to keep me reading and interested. The narration got on my nerves after a while, though.

Overall, this book didn't live up to the expectations I had for it.
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