Title: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Author: Junot Diaz
Publisher: Riverhead Trade (2008)
Where I got it: eBorrowed on my Kindle from the Boston Public Library
Rating: 4 stars
I’m LOVING eborrowing books from the Boston Public Library. Why did I wait a WHOLE year before I got a library card (oh, and a Kindle)?? That was dumb.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao broke my heart a little. Oscar de Leon is a chubby (well, let’s be honest…obese) Dominican who is unapologetically nerdy and has approximately ZERO game. His mother smothers him; his sister tries to get him to shape up; his college roommate tries to teach him how to flirt with girls. Nothing works. He falls in love with girls on the subway, speaks with SAT vocabulary, writes fantasy/science fiction novels.
He’s a hopeless case and will probably be the first Dominican male to ever die a virgin.
The story is told by Oscar’s college roommate and sister’s once upon a time boyfriend, Junior. Oscar Wao begins with a summary of Oscar’s life through high school and then moves into his sister’s experience in high school: running away from home and living with her boyfriend.
Then Junior goes into Oscar’s mother’s history in the Dominican Republic during the reign of Trujillo. Beli, was an incorrigible hottie. She gets into a really effed-up affair with a married gangster, gets the bajesus kicked out of her, has an inadvertent abortion. I hated her character. She’s so headstrong and just wrong about most things. She also is like the worst mother ever–she and her daughter say things to each other that make my heart hurt.
Then Junior goes into Beli’s parent history (so that’s Oscar’s maternal grandparent’s history), which is terrible and sad–you feel bad for Beli, but she so awful
Finally, we circle back around to Oscar and he falls in love. But for real this time. With a hooker! He can’t possibly die a virgin now, right?? Well, she has a boyfriend who is a real tool and also happens to be the chief of Police in the DR. I won’t tell you how it ends,
but it isn’t pretty.
Side note: This story was inundated with Spanish words and phrases, so have that iPhone translator nearby. Also super interesting look at how race relations have evolved in America since the 1980s. READ IT!