Book 125: "This Is How You Lose Her" by Junot Diaz

Title: This Is How You Lose Her
Author: Junot Diaz
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Read in: Trade Paperback
Genre: Fiction

This is the first book in a while that gripped me from the beginning and that I really enjoyed reading. It could be that it spoke to recent events in my life, but I think that it's mostly because it is very well written. I have to be honest that I'm usually partial to the style and voice that emerges from latin authors. The way they express themselves is often so compelling and human; generally it gives the air of someone telling you a story, rather than you reading one.

This Is How You Lose Her is written in first person narrative. It tells, in short segments, pieces of characters' lives; each segment showing some aspect of how relationships begin to fall apart. A strong theme throughout is infidelity, especially in the Dominican culture. I have to be honest that I know absolutely nothing about Dominican culture either in the Dominican Republic or for the immigrants and their families in the United States. This book presents infidelity as if it is an accepted reality that Dominican men are cheaters. It is also, in my opinion, fighting that accepted reality by showing how infidelity effects the people involved. Sometimes something that is cultually accepted has very real, very painful consequences when that action is actually carried out.

Diaz does an amazing job of bringing his characters to life. This book is moving and sticks with you. Even now, days after I finished it, I find myself running passages through my head and thinking about how the characters felt in certain segments. I am also impressed how fully immersed I felt in the culture of the characters. Diaz successfully explains cultural elements so that the explanation flows seamlessly into the narrative. This is great for readers who, like me, have no knowledge of Dominican culture, or the culture of living in the east in a neighborhood filled with mostly immigrants. It is also great because if you do have knowledge of this culture, it does not detract from the story, so it will not feel as if things you already know are being explained to you.

This book comes with my glowing recommendation. I finished it on Saturday. I have already purchased Diaz's Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. I look forward to what that book brings.

The quotes that stuck with me from this book:

“You don't want to let go, but don't want to be hurt, either. It's not a great place to be but what can I tell you?”
Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her

“Then you look at her and smile a smile your dissembling face will remember until the day you die. Baby, you say, baby, this is part of my novel.

This is how you lose her.”
Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her