William's Reviews > This Is How You Lose Her

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
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Oct 07, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2012
Read in October, 2012

A wonderful book but one that's easy to underestimate. Make no mistake though, Junot Diaz is the real deal.
There are no heroes here, no nobility. These are poor people, some recent immigrants, some not, some legal and some not but they all still have one foot in the homeland. They have all come to scratch out a better life but few succeed in the way they hoped and these are their stories.
Although each story stands on its own, they share common themes - the search for love, the fight to maintain self esteem, honesty and honor, and are linked by one character Yunior who appears in a number of them.
Yunior is contrasted with his brother Rafa. In Rafa's case the persona IS who he is. As long as he walks the world, the cloak never drops. Yunior on the other hand wears the cloak of machismo with less confidence and ultimately with the knowledge that he needs much more than machismo to get where he needs to go. It is a coming of age story unlike any other you are likely to read.
Stylistically the prose is raw and gritty but so are the lives of the characters. This, together with the smattering of Spanish gives the characters a ring of authenticity. One rarely reads prose written in the second person but here it works to great effect because it allows Yunior to stand outside of himself and relate the events of his life to himself almost as if he were judging his own efforts to succeed in love and life. Almost as if he were wishing he could do it all again. It again underscores the fact that for Yunior, the persona was not his true self.
How many times have we looked at a seemingly simple piece of art and thought 'I could do that!' It is only when we actually try that we really appreciate the skill of the artist. These are seemingly simple stories about seemingly uncomplicated people,some would call them a quick read. The skill of Junot Diaz is that they are deeply moving in a way way that will leave you thinking about them long after you finish the book.

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