First off, the book is not really about the life of Oscar Wao (actually his last name is De Leon). Oscar is a central character but not the main character like the title implies. In my view the main theme about this book is about the lives of the De Leon family and the circumstances that caused them to be in Jersey. This all leads up to Oscar, but its not all about Oscar (if that makes sense).
What is the story really about? It is about the bad luck that follows the De Leon family. It all starts in the Dominican Republic, travels to New Jersey, and back again to the Dominican Republic. The bad luck and the history of the De Leon family is the central theme. In fact, I think that there was more about the Oscar's mother's past than there was about Oscar himself.
The story was written in third person. By an ex-boyfriend of Oscar's sister who is familiar with the family and it's history. This is one of the books weaknesses to me. The narrator has a tendency to use terms that get on my nerves and the language is often time vulgar. Now I don't mind vulgarity normally but I was expecting more since this is a Pulitzer Prize winning book. Also, I think that some of the terms that the author choice to use were wrong. For example, Diaz used the term n**ger alot (not in the racist way) but I think that he should have used n**ga. Now for some people there isn't a difference and they are both offensive. I, personally, think that when using the term in a slang like manner you should use n**ga. It is more of the street term, unless Dominicans use it differently than black people do.
Another thing that bothered me, and another blogger pointed it out was that the footnotes. I think that they were completely unnecessary and just ignored them for the most part. Some of them took up most of the page. This is a fictional story not a history book. Why use footnotes? If you can't put the basic idea in the storyline than why use it. I don't think skipping the footnotes influenced my feeling towards this book.
I read a couple of reviews that compared this book to "The Catcher In The Rye". I don't get the comparison. They are both about boys who don't fit in. But "The Catcher In The Rye" allowed a deeper look into the main character and what they were feeling. I never got to really see what Oscar was feeling. I just sort of had to guest. I would have rather this story been told in Oscar's prospective. I think that it would have been made it a lot better. Instead of guessing why Oscar did the things that he did, I would know and feel a little connected with him.
One of the things that I liked about this books was the glimpse into Dominican cultural beliefs and history. I personally know very about the Dominican Republic and this book did give great backgrounds information.Pros:
History, Culture, Plot
Cons: Language, Characters, Point of ViewOverall Recommendation:
I don't know. I am on the fence about this one. I want to recommend it but I don't want to recommend it. It's a toss up.