"Like" is not exactly the right word (hence my 4-star Goodreads rating), but I don't know exactly what is. It is a 5-star novel (it won the Pulitzer), and I completely see why. I listened to this book, and really appreciated the talent and skill of the reader. The advanced vocabulary, dialectic "Spanglish" and profanity, use of actual Spanish, and references to popular and political culture make it the kind of novel that bears academic study: reading it at a desk/computer with a search engine in one window and a Spanish translation application in another, making marginal notes, etc. Not having the time or ambition for all that, I was glad for the expert audible narration that allowed the plot and character development to flow and shine.
It was still educational for all my laziness: the portrayal of the far-reaching effects of living in a country controlled by a brutal dictatorship (the Dominican Republic under Trujillo) and the "diaspora" of Dominicans to New York City. [From Wikipedia: The movement of a population from its original homeland characterized by social coherence within the diaspora community and ties to the ancestral homeland including a myth or collective memory, the idea that the ancestral homeland is the true home to which they will someday return, and a personal or vicarious relationship to the homeland that shapes their identity.] All of these concepts are woven through the novel, with an emphasis on the idea of fuku, a bad-luck curse that follows a family through generations.
The narrative structure features Yunior, semi-omniscient, both first and third-person storyteller, who plays a significant role in the lives of Oscar and his sister Lola. The novel includes too many interesting and significant characters to describe, and you have to read/listen to it yourself to get the full affect. As far as that goes, the book is full of profanity, unsavory behaviors, brutality (especially violence toward women), and limited amounts of respite from all that, which likely provides a hyperbolic, dramatized, but not completely unrealistic of real life for members of this diaspora. I really liked it; your mileage may vary.
Read this if you have any interest in Latin American history and it's impact on being a marginalized young person in the USA. Awesome innovative method of telling the story of the Trujillo era of the Dominican Republic as it pertains to the generation after Trujillo.
This is a fantastic story that went right to the heart of what are meant to be Oscar. painted beautiful pictures with words and took us into his universe from a friends perspective. I loved it.
The characters were believable. The dark, painfully realistic plot was poignant. I recommend this book and transporting yourself to a glimpse of the those born in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.