I read the book in one day. If it were up to me it would have been in one sitting, but well, life happens.
I’ve had this book in my eyesight for quite some time and I even forgot I had bought it. I was separating my clothes to do laundry and I found the Barnes & Noble bag under my clothes rack. I pulled it out and took the book out and thought: I guess I can start this today. *Remind me to take this off my Christmas wish-list.
Oh, Yunior. What a life he’s lead. What is it about some men that just don’t value something good when they have it? I felt transported while reading his life- as if I was there living it. Could it have been because I related to the women he was treating like shit? That’s probably not a good sign on my life, but there were some similarities.
Being Mexican-American I was happy to read dialogue different from the Spanglish I’m used to. Dominican, but not really Dominican as one his many told him. He came to the States as a young boy with his mother and older brother. Growing up in the East Coast he was barren to the cold winters. It pained me to read about the adjusting his mother never truly realized and the shit his brother made him go through; and the abandonment of his father.
Despite the diaspora of Dominican, I felt he never realized his either. As a professor he’s asked for an ID as he walks through campus. He makes references to his skin color- and the skin color of the mamis- which to me signifies the importance outer appearance has in the assimilation into Americanness. His brother, the light-skinned one, I don’t like him. I don’t care that he had cancer and died of it- having cancer doesn’t make you immune to people not liking you, just feeling bad for you.
Then I didn’t like Yunior either. He questions if he’s the way he is because of his brother, his father, his Dominicanness… No, Yunior, you’re just an ass. The women he had long-term relationships with he fucked them up because of maybe, perhaps, the ingrained subconscious mentality of the macho man- to conquer all the pussy he can get. Well, maybe that behavior was learned, but whatever, he could have learned to love better. His brother would bring women to their basement room and because their mom had no clue and him being upstairs would sound alarms he stayed in the room while his brother banged away. He was aware that his father would work late and sometimes stay working for days, but it wasn’t really work, it was fuckery.
I’m not sure in whose voice the last chapters are written in but they were my favorite. I envisioned a woman’s voice sounding sad and pitiful on his behalf. I felt sorry for Yunior as much as I felt sorry for the women he fucked over. I wish I knew what happened to him at the end. Did the book he wrote about how he lost her open doors to other women? The woman, that finally replaced la Negra?
Can a cheater ever be forgiven? What if it was 50 sucias he fucked with like Yunior did? Would you still try to make it work? Yunior is a cheater, a liar- and, well, no one wants to be the villain of their own story, so he tries to redeem himself in his narrative. But for me it doesn’t work. I suffer for the women. I understand the science in the biology of men, but I feel the emotions of the heart should not be played with- and so does he, but he realizes that a little too late. So he can take his self-pity and loathing and stick it up his ass.
I feel sullen and numb at his suffering. I’m not suggesting that the women he fucked over were perfect, we’re all human, but dammit if he ever took them for granted. At one point I was rooting for him, that maybe he and the current girlfriend can make it work, but it didn’t.
The power of emotions I’ve come to feel because from this book just shows how great it is.
Aside from the love story- or lack-there-of- this book brings to light the intersectionalities of an immigrant. Great points to take into account and I think it would be a great book for a book club discussion.
- Junot Diaz (ginoantoniooblog.wordpress.com)
- Junot Diaz brings a distinctive voice to Latin American literature (kansascity.com)
- This Is How You Lose Her – Junot Diaz (tashallewellyn.com)
- Review: This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz (eklaidlaw.com)