READ THIS! {The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao}

This month's READ THIS! choice was The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz...
Amazon described this novel as "Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love."

Diaz weaves an incredible and captivating story in this novel, inviting the reader into Oscar's world, and allowing us to be a part of the magic of this deeply personal saga.  I have to agree with the reviews for Diaz's novel, that I compiled here, and I loved that it made me laugh out loud, was smartly written, and the story is creatively put together. This novel is stylistically unique, as the narrators use Spanish words interchangeably with English words. These words are a blended piece of the text, without translations or italics to make them stand out or to explain them. I think that this helps to better pull the reader into the story and allows us to feel more completely a part of the story that the narrator is telling. 

Another one of my favorite aspects of this novel, is that while the main character and main narrator of the novel are both male, some of the strongest voices throughout the story are female. The story is propelled most often by the female characters - pulling the male characters in one direction or another - and Diaz provides an incredible strength to those voices. I fell in love with both the characters and their voices, and I am so glad that I finally picked up this novel and read it.

Have you read this story? Did you too fall in love with the female voices throughout the story? Or did you better identify with the male voices? Finally, I learned from Oscar and from his story, did you? 

To start off the new year, January's READ THIS! book choice is Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter...

Amazon describes it as, "The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying. And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier. What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow. Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams."

I am so excited to dive into this new novel and I hope that you'll join me in reading it in January!




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