Book: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Date Read: January 11 to 30, 2022
Rating: 4 (of 5) stars
I was immediately intrigued the first time I saw this book. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond my control, the timing was not right to add it to my shelves. For some reason, after that day, this book and I seemed to always pass each other by. I added the book to my want to read list in 2013, but did not actually add it to my shelves until nearly 4 years later. It stayed there long enough that when I read the first prompt for the 2022 Unread Shelf Project, a book you’ve been putting off reading, I knew right where to go.
This story ended up being quite a different ride than I had expected. While it is clear in the title that Oscar’s life would be cut short, the story goes much deeper into not only his story, but also the stories of his family’s history. In telling the story of the family, we also get a crash course in Dominican history—primarily told through some lengthy footnotes that read something like a textbook written in ghetto vernacular. Amusing at points for sure, but also making this a pretty heavy and more complicated read than I had anticipated. While I think the language was fitting to the story, it definitely made this a tough one to get through, as I found myself stopping frequently to translate words or look up the meaning of unfamiliar slang. Perhaps the most frustrating part of this was that I could not always find answers that really made sense in the context that a word or phrase was used.
Overall, I felt like the story here was worth the effort, although there were definitely pieces that were not quite fully satisfying. The novel had multiple storylines running in various timelines, and while some pieces seem to come full circle in the story, there were also things that were left hanging or unresolved. That combined with some of the extra efforts needed to read pulled this down from being the 5 star read it could have been.
Minka’s Thoughts: “Well, it tastes good anyway. 4 paws.”