Book Review

Book Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao


Love was a rare thing, easily confused with a million other things, and if anybody knew this to be true it was him.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is the first novel written by Dominican American author Junot Diaz which tells the story of Oscar De Leon, a Dominican boy living in New Jersey and the curse or “fuKu” that he believes have plagued his family over the years.

Oscar is an overweight boy who seemed to have no luck with love/dating or in the “Girls Department”  as some would call it. Due to this predicament, he’s learned to focus his energy on anything geeky and became a true blue fanboy of anything science fiction. His adult life prove to be no difference from that of his adolescent years – no luck with girls, stuck with his comic books. There were a few girls he fell in love with, hang out with, maybe even dated, but the love he felt for them wasn’t reciprocated and have all ended tragically. One in particular have led him to life-threatening decisions and Oscar being a sucker-for-love kind of guy may have done things that could endanger/cost his life.

Thru the alternating views narrated by various characters, this book tells how both Oscar’s mother, and grandfather have suffered under the dictatorship of the then Dominican Republic leader, Rafael Trujillo. The book’s theme varies between the political history of Dominican Republic, the teen-aged, comic book-addicted life of Oscar and the sufferings that Oscar’s grandfather have gone through in the hands of Trujillo’s men. The latter which Oscar believes is the start of the fuku curse that have tormented his family over the years.

While this is a story of a boy trying to fit in with life and society’s changing times, it also tells the power of a greedy politician over the regular civilians. It showed us how it didn’t matter if you’re in Dominican Republic or anywhere else in the world, for people in power have all too often used and overused their position to reign over “smaller” people. It’s easy to say that it is also a story of power and influence, and how it could destroy a life or nation if mishandling happens.

I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars rating. I love how the characters are build from chapter to chapter. How they were introduced retrospectively and  how they all contribute to the story of Oscar’s brief and indeed wondrous life.


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