The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by Junot Díaz
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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 0 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 177 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This books is interesting in that it is fairly compelling, but definitely offbeat. As an English teacher, I find some of the slang and strange sentence structure slightly off-putting, but certainly not enough to put the book down. I find Latin American history/culture extremely fascinating, so the novel's take on the Trujillo Era is quite engaging. I would recommend it to a friend, but it is neither light nor easy reading,so better for a book club/somewhat serious read than escapist or beach reading...
PickledJarofBrain More than 1 year ago
Book Review: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz is definitely not an ordinary book. and not to be read lightheartedly. It is written in lively voices of the characters in mix of English and Spanish, jumping from time to time and characters to the other. It tells the story of the De Leon Family, consisting of the Single Mother, Belícia, and her children, Lola and Oscar. Belícia's story tells the tale of her youth, when she was so recklessly in love with men and the disaster the love brings to her. Lola's story consists of a growing woman trying to find her freedom within her rocky relationship with her mother. Oscar, the main boy, tries to find true romance with his heavy body and geeky tastes, and ends up meeting his own "happy" doom. A strong curse (or 'Fúku', as the family calls it) seems to follow this family from 1944~1995, and the characters struggle to survive and find their destiny within it. The book is not particularly an easy reading, for there are so many jumps. Time jumps almost randomly every chapter, and at this change, the narrator, place, and people flips back and forth. Also, the author provides an inside-out history of the Trujillo dictatorship in Dominican Republic in side notes, which deeply related with the story base. Violence and injustice is strong in the story, and you'll be taken back by the intensity of emotions. Despite the strong themes, there are still humor and romance (although sometimes politically wrong), and draws its readers into the true read-through oh humanness I recommend The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao to those who like a story with fast pace, and a mix of fiction with reality. Also, the book contains many aspects, from violence to humor, and is good to re-read. For those who does not like so much changes in plot from chapter to chapter, this book might not be as capturing to you. In overall, this book opened my eyes to a new type of literature with its direct 'street' language, talking about very possible events. I strongly recommend this book to be read smoothly and through the night, and hope that you experience the excitement in it too.
iluvvideo More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It tells the story of Oscar de Leon (nicknamed Oscar Wao in reference to Oscar Wilde). He sees himself as the antithesis of what a Dominican male should be. Overweight, bookish, SF movie watching, journal writing , and worst of all NO luck with the ladies. His story is told from several points of view (his own, his sister Lola, his friend Yunior, and other family members). They take us on a journey through Oscar's life, and also through the birth and reasons behind the family fuku (bad karma) that flows through every action and possible outcome, predetermining the worst outcome. You get a up close look at the Dominican Republic's history especially the era of the dictator Trujillo, a regime as oppressive as any dictator in history, that operated for over 40 years in obscurity to the outside world, but with devastating consequence to the people, including Oscar and his family. The characters are believable, neither glorified nor reviled, just trying to survive. They leave the Dominican and immigrate to Nuevo Yol in search of freedom and a better life. But what can be done with the ever present fuku? It seems you cannot escape! I found Oscar and his family's story fascinating. Each generations struggle to escape the repressive situation in which they live and struggle toward a better life. Oscar struggles to become a man and find love and happiness in his life. Will he succeed? Read and find out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a hispanic female and I did understand the Spanish parts of the book but unfortunately that was really all I understood. At times the book was interesting but at other times it just dragged on. The history of the mother was way too long! At times I couldn't tell who was actually telling the story. I thought it was just me but after reading some other reviews I see that others had the same problems. I was really disappointed that this book didn't live up to all the hype surrounding it. Sorry, this was NOT my favorite book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr Diaz does a grate job in pairing historical events with it's fictional caracters and plots. His writing style is original, maybe one of the reasons he won a pulitzer. His other book Drown is also amazing. Can't wait for his next masterpiece.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are so many things I dislike about this book that's hard to know what to write. The internal voice of each character is pretty much just Diaz,  which makes the characters hard to connect with because they seem so empty. Oscar is supposed to be a nerd, yet doesn't think like one. He reads all these books, but never uses them as examples. The random, '70s, potty-mouth Spanish is also annoying and gives the characters a dirty, cheap feel to them. They have two languages, yet have limited vocabulary in both with the exception of Oscar randomly using a big word here and there, which at best seems forced. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like Junot Díaz's writing, though I found myself cringing at his vulgarity.. maybe his crudeness was for shock value? I don't know.. However, I did like the book (the plot was interesting), but if you are in high school, I recommend waiting till you're a little older to read it. (I'm a freshman and while I don't regret reading this book, I do wish I waited.)
KatStan More than 1 year ago
Diaz's distinctive style grows on you and entices you into a mindset that makes this an always-good and sometimes-great reading experience. Characters are exceptionally well-developed and memorable and the plot is propulsive and well-crafted. A couple of reading notes: (1) It helps to know Spanish (I don't, but looked up a lot of words and learned a few), but you can get by without it. (2) Nook readers should know is that there are many pages of endnotes (not footnotes) that are substantively enriching but not easy to read electronically. I discovered this after completing the main body and upon skimming the endnotes had several regrets for not having known historical facts, cultural features, or background details.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing!!!! he hit the nail with THIS book.coming from the same Dominican background I was taken back into oscars world!! And the history that my parents had to grow up in .... Love love this book...was very sad when I finished it lol
ShunziJong More than 1 year ago
I tried to like this book. Because I like the author. Junot is a masterful writer. But here he tells an interesting story that could have used some editing. He includes some unnecessary subplots that only take up time. The saying less is more would have been applicable here.
NWilson More than 1 year ago
Reading this book was like watching a soap opera. You can't ignore it but it didn't have enough substance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some may call me a typical geek but I really don't understand how a book like this gets the attention and praise of critics. Just seems that whenever it's a book about real life and people doing nothing that somehow we're supposed to come away with some deep meaning about life itself. When really the story of Oscar Wao seems to be one long drawn out reason of why suicide seems to be such a better option. And really if one were to want to read that then I say read Chuck Palahniuk. At least then he'll lay out those observations in front of you. And the fact that this book is called "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" is really a cruel joke that borders upon sadism. Especially with how the main character just seems to go on suffering from beginning to end. That you're left with the big question "What was the point of that?"
thecatsmeowCC More than 1 year ago
I became a fan of Junot Diaz after I read Drown. I figured since I loved that book so much I should like this book too. WRONG. I can't get through it. I've tried twice to read the entire book but I can't through it. I don't know what it is about the book but I can't get into the story or characters...
Mara_New More than 1 year ago
This book is phenomenal. It gives a fantastic look into the lives of a series of diverse and quirky characters and brings a realism with it that is heartbreaking but inspiring. Excellent read!
jkny23 More than 1 year ago
First of all, about 15% of this book is written in Spanish. So unless you're fluent or you know someone to translate for you - be prepared. For a Pulitzer and National Book Award winner I expected something more than urban prose. No intelligence level needed for this read (the part that's in English, that is)! The footnotes that the author uses to give more detail to characters and historical timelines distract from the story. It's as if he couldn't figure out a way to blend them in and out of laziness he just left his original notes in there. Sorry but I don't get what the industry thinks is so great about this story. Maybe the critics gave this book a great review because it was such a fast, superficial read???
pagese More than 1 year ago
I'm still not sure what makes this book a literary genius. First off I dislike fiction stories that include footnotes. Although, I know they are there to state facts, I still found myself not reading them. There is an interesting history trapped in these pages. And that I did enjoy. I liked the story involving Oscar's heritage and the history of the Dominican. He's mother's story was particularly harrowing. But, the story of Oscar himself bordered on vulgar at times. I felt like it was 340 pages of a man's desire to have sex for the first time. I finished it (and it took me longer than most books this size do), but I don't feel I learned anything from it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a bit tiring. It doesn't really focus on Oscar (like I expected)but the whole "unlucky" Wao family history. Junot Diaz writes very well and is very talented with the writing but the story doesn't really stand out for me. However, it was interesting with the whole Dominican Rep. history. The middle part was boring, it dragged on, and I had to force my way through it. Other than that, the rest is not bad and I found the ending satisfying. I would recommend it if you don't have a book in mind that you're dying or waiting to read. Overall, it has its highs and lows.
mctn More than 1 year ago
I do respect the mentality of people from other countries as I, too, am an immigrant living in the USA. I just don't know why the author would want to focus on this issue, in this manner. The historical part was greatly researched, though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
honestly thought it was not that good. I kept TRYING to read it (I never not finish a book) and I coudln't. I'm Spanish and fluent in reading and writing and still found it too hard to doesn flow since you always have to be looking at the foot notes. And its just very boring in the middle. at first i thought that the flash backs/forwards would be cool, but it just made the book even more redundant. In conclusion I just gave up TRYING to read it because after 250 pages you shouldn't be trying anymore it should be a page turner by now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing writing style gets you entranced but by about midway one gets weary of the violence, sexism and language. Interesting historical footnotes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I try to read the 'top' selling books from many lists and I find myself scratching my head wondering "What did I miss?" It always brings me back to choices and individual tastes.....a painting, music, dance, movie or book. To each his/her own. I LISTENED to this on audio CD's, which to me makes many books come alive when there is a good reader. I enjoyed the word pronounciation (vs. my attempts to say them) but I did not enjoy this book. Drown was included in the audio pack and I got through that a little easier than Oscar Wao.
BookWorm221 More than 1 year ago
This book consolidated the fact that I freaking love Junot Díaz’s writing, his way of telling stories is so different from anything I’ve read, he creates worlds and stories for each character and he is generous enough to write them for us. In this book we meet Oscar, but we also meet his sister, his mother, his grandmother and are reunited for a short time with Yunior (that was a surprise to me, although I realized it shouldn’t have been). We get to know this family, Oscar’s family, the struggles and experiences that shaped the women important to him and let me tell you those chapters were some of the best chapters I’ve ever read, the stories are sad, yes, but they are also compelling and real and scary because you realize that it could actually happen and that women have been victims everywhere in the world and in every generation. I feel like he was writing a love letter to women, not maybe a pretty love letter but a raw and real love letter, like saying, I know this happened, I know this could happen, but you are eventually going to be Okay. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into every word he writes, whatever it is I love it, I love Oscar with all of his braveness but insecurities, with his need to be cared for, loved, and respected. I loved the women in his family, the ones that are hard workers and whose lives haven’t been the easiest.
Curieuse More than 1 year ago
Shocked that this had less than four stars. One of the best books I have read in a long time. It was raw and honest and real while still maintaining a kind of optimism that I find all too rare in modern literature.
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