Ironically, I received Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her in the midst of a series of dating failures. When I started reading I couldn’t put it down. This version is a commemorative edition. It comes hardbound with a special case and includes illustrations by the very talented Jaime Hernandez. You can pick up a copy here.
The book is written in a serious of short stories that center around Dominican-American Yunior. Each story is written from his perspective and describes a failed relationship (with the exception of one story written from a female perspective). Yunior struggles with his incessant impulse to cheat and has difficulty balancing his desire for women with the other issues in his life. By the end of the book Yunior realizes just what he’s lost with his cheating ways and attempts to piece himself back together.
The novel isn’t as cut-and-dry as my description might sound. And the nuance of each relationship was alarmingly realistic. I found myself identifying relationships that I’ve witnessed or personally been in before. What I also found interesting was that I didn’t hate Yunior. My go-to instinct with guys who cheat is to write them off. I never tolerate that. There are no second chances. But Yunior was aware of his own behavior and his self criticizing humanized him too much for me to turn my back.
I highly, highly recommend this piece not only for those who are interested in contemporary fiction but for anyone who has ever experienced a breakup. It’s a dead-on description of the highs and lows of relationships, and it’s nice to know that you’re not the only one feeling it. Diaz is an incredibly talented writer (and Boston-based!) and Hernandez’s illustrations allow for a breath between emotional ups and downs.
Photos by Jamie Ditaranto.