Before I read this book, I thought it might be cute. Or something. The description pitches it as a story about an "overweight ghetto nerd." But no. This book is hard-hitting--violent and disturbing. For sure. It's also engrossing, really well written, and a great, epic story. The parts with Lola and Beli I liked particularly. I liked the history, I liked the supernatural elements. This is a book I would reread and I can imagine getting a lot more out of it the second time around.
Looking through my recently read books, to me it was a "better" book than everything I've given five stars to in 2013. So I guess I will be consistent with myself and give it 5 stars. I was tempted to rate it at 4 1/2 though because...
- gratuitous use of the n-word (I got angry about it but when I started googling it, Diaz self-identifies as being "of African descent")
- Diaz says he's a "feminist ally," and I know that there is a difference between showing us sexism/oppression/etc and advocating for it or condoning it, but even still, there were a few times when I noticed sexism and I didn't feel like it was intentional--as opposed to times when I noticed the sexism and I felt like he as an author was "exposing" it or pointing it out. In other words, there were times that I felt it was very clear he didn't advocate for sexism, that he seemed critical of it, and times when he did (probably unconsciously/unintentionally) seem like he was endorsing it. But, you know, we are steeped in that shit so I don't want to fault him for that; I just have high hopes for "allies," I guess.
- Oscar's story just wasn't as interesting to me as Beli's or even Lola's.
But really there is so much great abound it and it's a pretty spectacular read and I would encourage most people to read it. :)