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Book Review: The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao

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Beli is a hardened mother who seeks control through her children, Oscar and Lola. Lola is the rebellious daughter. Yani is the womanizing family friend. In the center of them all is Oscar, an obese nerd and the latest victim of a Dominican curse known as the fukú.

With the aforementioned characters and the use of casual prose, the story is very engaging. The raw honesty of the narrator’s voice in the story feels like someone you could know in real life. In addition to telling the main story, the narrator also goes and tells little side stories with informative annotations at the bottom of the page. These vary from cultural references like the Lord of the Rings to Dominican history. In fact, one part of Dominican history plays a major role in a few of the characters lives: the era of the dictator Trujillo.

Another interesting aspect of the story is that it tries to answer the question, “How did life get so screwed up?” by going through three family generations. While there is brutal violence and tragedy, the resilence that is sometimes present is awe inspiring. It makes you want to question things and see if life can change for the better.

Something that may be confusing for the reader is the mix of Spanish and English words in sentences. Unless you speak Spanish, it is best to have a really good Spanish dictonary at your side as you read. Furthermore, due to the sexual content and profanity, this book is recommended for older teens and adults.

Written by Serena Zola

May 29, 2012 at 8:10 PM

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