The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz is one of those books I put off reading due to some negative comments from a couple of friends who had already read the novel. That’s right, I put off reading number 10 on my 65 Book Challenge because of a few bad reviews, and I must admit I regret it just a teensy bit, but better late than never right?
The five stars out of five stars on my Goodreads account cannot even begin to express how much I enjoyed this book. Almost immediately, Junot Diaz drew me into the quirky and fascinating world of Oscar Wao: a young second generation Dominican American maneuvering his way around the obstacles of family, love, and life. But Diaz goes far beyond the call of duty on this one; he doesn’t solely focus on Oscar Wao, but also choses to tell the stories of those individuals who surround him and impact him at some point: his mother, his sister, a love interest of his sister’s, and so on. It’s a brilliant move on Junot Diaz’s part to do so, as the reader never has the opportunity to grow tired of a single protagonist, but rather moves from character to character picking out the chinks and fissures in their armor.
And just when you thought The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao couldn’t get any more interesting, Junot Diaz throws in a family curse and a bit of history for good measure. The correlating tale that he manages to develop from this is incredible: mainly because of his ability to weave history together with fiction. The narrative of the Dominican Republic plays a large part in this story, as do the woes of immigrants moving to the USA. And even more fascinating is watching how children of immigrants, although Americans by birth, struggle with their own identity and their need to fit in both in, their native country and their adopted country.
This book definitely hit close to home for me and was a moving story expressed with the deft ability for which Junot Diaz has become well-known. He doesn’t hold back, he’s both honest and elusive; leaving enough to the imagination to allow the reader to become a secondary character in his novel. This is one book that I definitely agree is a must-read! :)