I started reading this book about a year ago. Yes, a year. It was one of those things where you’re not in the right mind frame/it starts slow/it wasn’t really what you expected after reading all the praise for it. Then, Yrsa Daley Ward recommended Junot Diaz in one of the sessions of our writing workshop (which I’ll talk about in a later post) after comparing the writing style in one of my pieces to his. Really, that’s the fastest way to get me to read any author!
It is such a beautiful piece of work. It’s different. You’ll have to accept that it’s not one chronological story, rather, a telling in pieces. It is the story of Yunior, an immigrant from the Dominican republic, his family and all the women he’s managed to lose due to his reckless cheating ways. It is refreshingly honest but also terribly melancholic at times. I had to pause a few times because I was becoming so sad about the things he was feeling and experiencing.There’s so much life lived in the book. The stories are just as real as the characters.
Yunior is incredibly insightful and his almost non-chalant attitude towards everything in his life is in turns relatable and annoying. Still, if he was a real person, I would love to meet him. The story is told from varying perspectives like snapshots into different parts of Yunior’s life and most of the important people in it.
I’ve always believed that the universe invented the color red solely for Latinas
And that’s when I know it’s over. As soon as you start thinking about the beginning, it’s the end.
He doesn’t speak for a moment, as if the silence is the elastic that will bring his next words forward.
I never see the sick; they visit me through the stains and marks they leave on the sheets, the alphabet of the sick and dying.
The same age I was when I arrived; they see me now, twenty-eight, five years here, as a veteran, a rock, but back then, in those first days, I was so alone that every day was like eating my own heart.
She’s dark and heavy-browed and has a mouth like unswept glass—when you least expect it she cuts you.
Ana Iris once asked me if I loved him and I told her about the lights in my old home in the capital, how they flickered and you never knew if they would go out or not. You put down your things and you waited and couldn’t do anything really until the lights decided. This, I told her, is how I feel.
He never stays angry for long. He has too many other things on his mind.
My mom wasn’t the effusive type anyway, had one of those event-horizon personalities—shit just fell into her and you never really knew how she felt about it
You hear mothers say all the time that they would die for their children, but my mom never said shit like that. She didn’t have to. When it came to my brother, it was written across her face in 112-point Tupac Gothic.
Learning to sleep in new places was an ability you were supposed to lose as you grew older, but I never had it.
I’m OK, you tell them, but with each passing week the depression darkens. You try to describe it. Like someone flew a plane into your soul. Like someone flew two planes into your soul
Nobody likes children, your mother assured you. That doesn’t mean you don’t have them.
The half-life of love is forever.
I highly recommend this book. I’d give it 4 stars out of 5.