Arria's Reviews > This Is How You Lose Her

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
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Oct 09, 12

Read in October, 2012

I'm a big fan of Junot. I own all 3 of his books and love when he has a story featured in The New Yorker (which is how I discovered him, many moons ago, in high school).
"This Is How You Lose Her" is another winner. Diaz has a way with words, that much is certain. Each story has it's own little gem and specialness to it.
This book is comprised of 9 short stories, most of them intertwined, linking the main character, Yunior, with his dealings with women, his dickhead brother, Rafa, who is arrogant and cancer-stricken; their mother, who has the patience of a saint dealing with his Rafa, and there is a bit of a theme of cheating in the stories. Yunior seems to want to be a better man and stay away from the infidelity gene that has touched both his jerky, cold father and womanizing, unempathetic brother. The Dominican background and stories color this book all the more for the better, as usual, and give it that "glitter" that Junot knows how to lace through with some awesome prose. It can be beautiful and sad and funny and you are endeared to Yunior who is navigating the waters of the female species, only to disappoint and be disappointed (in both himself and his actions). It's almost like he just can't win. Mostly by his own choices and decisions. It's kind of heartbreaking.
My favorite story is "Alma." Just the way the words slice together and how he describes her and how it details so concisely a sort of amazingness, a charm, all to come snowballing down like an avalanche--it's really beautiful. "Miss Lora" was also another fave. It follows Yunior who begins sleeping with an older woman while cheating on his girlfriend Paloma. "The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars" start out this book's journey. Yunior has cheated on his sweet girlfriend Magda which she discovers because his sidepiece informs her about it. Yunior invites Magda on a trip to the Dominican Republic for the purpose of rekindling their now-infidelity-broken romance. "Nilda" is the story of Rafa's down-and-out girlfriend, with whom Yunior is completely in love with and has to watch on the sidelines, being emotionally tormented and treated badly by his "mujeriego" brother who only cares about himself. "Flaca" is the story of Yunior dating a "whitegirl" that he knows he will never love. "Otravida, Otravez" follows the story of a woman involved with a married man who has left his wife behind on the Island--and her uncertainty over her relationship with said married man. How she loves him in this sad way yet does not trust him and can't relax enough to enjoy their relationship, always wondering if he's going to go back to his wife.
"The Pura Principle" paints a great picture of sick Rafa (this particular story was described in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) and in "Invierno," you feel for Yunior's mother, who has newly arrived to the Unites States with her sons and it's sad how lonely she is trying to adjust to this solitary life in a new cold world, so far removed from everything in the Dominican Republic. "A Cheater's Guide to Love" is the culmination of all of the stories. Yunior has cheated on his fiancé and regrets it deeply after she dumps him and the story follows him through the years of trying to put his life back together, of feeling like he is never going to find someone better, and in true Junot fashion, there is a melancholic enlightenment that the protagonist experiences. A realization that maybe, this is as good as it gets. Maybe he did have the best and screwed it up.
Women always have a way of disappearing on Yunior, becoming ghosts never to be seen again.
I wouldn't say this is a book about "love." It's more a book about love just within the grasp of one's hand, slipping through fingers, gently touching the skin, just long enough to know it's there, and then suddenly, it's not. It eludes. And sometimes, there's only yourself to blame.
Junot nails it. Again.
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