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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Characters tug hearts of readers

Five years after the release of his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” author Junot Diaz is back with his second compilation of short stories called, “This is How You Lose Her.”

The book exposes readers to Yunior, a Dominican playboy who was previously introduced by Diaz in his books “Wao” and “Drown.”

The passages journey through Yunior’s love life as he meets the women whose hearts he breaks shortly afterward.

Readers will have a hard time deciding whether they love or hate Yunior considering his street-wise, slightly nerdy character mixes with a jerk-like attitude.

One thing of which readers can be certain is Diaz’s vibrant Spanglish prose, which keeps readers aching to know what will happen next.

In the short story “Invierno,” the stories flash back to Yunior’s childhood as he emigrates with his family from sunny Santo Domingo to New Jersey in the dead of winter. Through this, Diaz shows the alienation and power that comes from leaving one’s home country.

A woman washes her married lover’s laundry at her janitorial job in a cold New Jersey hospital in “Otra Vida, Otra Vez.” Here, Diaz takes readers to a world where love reigns, regardless of environment or logic.

Diaz creates characters that are undoubtedly human — with their own set of imperfect perfections — allowing readers to connect and identify with them, regardless of their cultural background.

The stories in “This is How You Lose Her” are all intertwined through the fabric of imminent heartbreak despite the differences in their respective plot lines.

“The Cheaters Guide to Love” ends the collection of short stories with Yunior coming full circle as he desperately tries to shed his old ways and start anew after his fiancee discovers his many infidelities and ends their relationship.

Yunior’s depression and regret is felt through Diaz’s description of gloomy Boston winters, and this blue mood lingers over Yunior’s life.

Diaz successfully draws readers into a world that is not much different from their own.

“This is How You Lose Her” will relentlessly tug at the heartstrings of readers page after page as Yunior’s many agonizing yet beautiful endeavors feel like a terrifying and exhilarating rollercoaster ride.

While Diaz’s compilation may seem to have an abrupt end, he successfully concludes his work by reminding readers that finding life’s beauty comes from the trials of pain.

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