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Friday, November 1, 2013

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Book Review: This Is How You Lose Her

I should start off by saying that I went into this book with the hopes that I would come out an emotional wreck. A book hadn't moved me in a while and I really wanted this to be the one that did. But if you, like me, are picking up this book to indulge yourself in some romance, you may want to reconsider. This book is definitely not what it seems from the title, or the summary provided in the front cover. That being said, I was PLEASANTLY surprised with what it actually is; an inside look into the mind of an honest, flawed, emotional and passionate man.

The book centers around Yunior, a young Dominican boy who grows up in a (mostly) single parent household, in a neighborhood where he doesn't really fit in, with a brother who he doesn't understand. The collection of short stories take us from Yunior's childhood until he reaches his late 20s. The format of the book contributes to the overwhelming feeling that the book is being narrated directly to you by a friend who has possibly had a little too much to drink. The stories are so painfully honest that sometimes it is difficult to comprehend why someone would ever reveal such details to another person. They are emotionally raw and told with such intricate detail that it is clear from the beginning how important these specific memories are to Yunior. We start the book wondering why Yunior would cheat on his girlfriend, whom he seems to love deeply. We spend the rest of the book building an explanation from shattered fragments of a man's life.

I assumed that the book would focus heavily on the relationship between the protagonist and his significant other, but I was pleasantly surprised that the relationship I found myself the most invested in was that between Yunior and his brother, Rafa.  We meet a LOT of women in this book, and some of them prove to be compelling matches for Yunior, but we are never sure that any will last. In fact, I began immediately looking for the signs of what could go wrong in each relationship before I was even told they had ended. But I was always confident in the bond between Yunior and Rafa. Although they hit more than a few rough patches in their relationship, it is clear that the bond that ties these two brothers together is strong. Stronger than sickness or selfishness or pride. Seeing the emotional journey that these brothers endure was the main reason that I enjoyed this book.

The title of this book insinuated that there is a single, central female that will play opposite of Yunior, but I never felt solely connected to one girl's story. We are given a fairly even amount of details regarding each girl and each failed relationship, therefore making it difficult to become attached to any specific one. That being said, you are definitely rooting for some women more than others. I think the observation of these relationships is the thing that has people raving about this book. Never before have I read a narrative written by an adolescent man that was quite as relatable and honest regarding relationships. Junot Diaz does not aim to convince the reader that Yunior is a good boyfriend, or even a good guy. He seems to aim only to shed light on the mindset and misconceptions that run rampant in the minds of a majority of men in a certain age group. And for that I want to thank him.

The aspect of these stories that I found most intriguing was the use of spanglish. Yunior frequently uses certain spanish phrases and words, some that do not exist in English and some that relate directly to his culture. I am -almost- fluent in Spanish and therefore I had a much easier time understanding the slang he uses, but the average non-spanish speaking reader will probably find it useful to look up these words online. They add a certain charm to the stories that otherwise, I'm afraid, would be lost.

So although this book didn't move me to tears like I thought it would, I really enjoyed it. Anyone who has been scorned by a guy and needs  some insight as to how it could have happened should definitely check this book out.

Have you read This Is How You Lose Her? What did you think? Head over to the forum to discuss!

Title: This Is How You Lose Her

Author: Junot Diaz

Genre: Short Stories, Contemporary, Romance

Recommendation: Yes

Best Reader Audience: People in their early 20s

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 Bunny Bums!

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