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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz I really liked the ending, although it surprised me, because I didn't see it coming at all. The title of the book, although it makes sense, doesn't really capture everything that is happening in the story. Yes, this is a family generational saga, but it's only about Oscar, his sister Lola, their mother Beli, and an ex-boyfriend of Lola, Yunior. Because of that, I almost would hesitate to call it a family saga, but it does span parent to child, with the implication it's going to go on forever.

This is not a book for everyone! It's different from most books on the top seller list, and in that way, I wouldn't recommend it to the casual reader of mysteries and romance.

Unlike most family saga's, this story isn't about larger-than-life family members with almost mythical like powers. Family members whose tales leave you skeptical of the facts, but you know deep down that there is truth to it. Instead, Oscar Wao is about a family who gets continually screwed over by fuku, the Dominican curse. They are people who can't seem to have a quiet, happy life. Now, I would say the character's in Beli's early life, especially Trujillo, were larger-than-life, but they're not the focus.

I knew nothing about Dominican Republic history before reading. Surprisingly, there is a lot of historical knowledge intertwined throughout the narrative.

Oscar's nerdiness and geekdom is fun, although I can't say I immediately recognized all the references. However, this isn't the whole book, and if you're reading just for that, you are going to be disappointed.

Beli's part in the middle of the book does bring down the fun of Oscar's portion, simply because it is long. It isn't all for naught in the end, but it's hard to switch from anime and Lord of the Rings to historical Caribbean fiction. In that way, it's a really interesting mix and I can see why Diaz got all the awards he did. He's really trying something different. Although Oscar, Lola, and Beli appear extremely opposite to one another, because of their family bond and history, they are still very similar. Something which I think everyone can relate to.

I really liked the small reference to Proust and madelines when Oscar goes to the Dominican. I always applaud an author who can get in a Proust reference that actually fits in seemlessly.