Ari's Reviews > Drown

Drown by Junot Díaz
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's review
Jun 27, 2014

liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2011
Read from July 08 to 09, 2011

I love The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (the author's second book), I don't love Drown, I'm just in like, tentative like. I did not like the confusing narration, at first I couldn't figure out that the story was being told by the same guy, Yunior because he's not always referred to by name. Since the story takes place in both the D.R. and New Jersey and there's no sense of time, it's also difficult to figure out how old Yunior is. There is no clear continuity so I was left wondering about what happened to the rest of Yunior's messed up (aren't they all?) family. In fact, I can't even say for sure if it was all about Yunior, maybe it wasn't but I'm going to continue thinking it was until someone helpfully explains otherwise. Yunior's father is a jerk, he abandons his family in the D.R. to head to America and then remarries. But hold your judgement because by the end of the book, I understood this lost father a little bit better. Still don't like him, but I understand him, sorta.

The stories in Drown are gritty, genuine and riveting. The entire cast of characters is hardened beyond their years both cynical and aching for the American Dream as well as to be loved. The irony is that they all push love away and some of them throw away the opportunities America offers them. But it's not entirely their fault, as usual there is a distinctive gray area concerning the perils of following the American Dream and the gifts that America can give. These stories are confusing and sometimes the characters are perplexing but they are memorable. I liked the author's confined prose, it is both frustrating and delightful, he manages to create such realistic scenes and characters in so few words that it's stunning. He has a unique way of describing people and things such as "Outside, Mami said, her voice a murder about to happen" (pg. 79). I practically started quaking when I read that line. I could hear the cadence of voices, not just the Spanish accents but also the accents of those from Santo Domingo and those who live in the city, the pain, toughness and vulnerability rings clearly. And I love that he doesn't translate his Spanish or even highlight the words so you know it's Spanish, it's just there y no es un problema.

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Reading Progress

06/27/2014 marked as: read

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