YES!!!!!!! This audiobook experience comes together perfectly. The story is classic Junot Diaz with characters that are alive and kicking with non-negotiable street cred. You get front-row views into the comedy and pain of their situations, and location descriptions that make you feel like you're standing in the middle of the action.
Junot Diaz as a reader is surprisingly fantastic! He reads the stories at the right pace, injecting the spanish slang words with just the right emphases, and altogether convincingly brings to life the Yunior character.
The bachata music before the first story and in between the stories set the right mood for the poignant, heartbreaking stories, allowing them to flow into each other seamlessly.
A vicious description of one of Rafa's ex-girlfriends, Tammy Franco. She's a tertiary character and yet Junot is able to commit her to his readers' memory in a few words. He describes the abusive relationship that she has with Rafa as a "two-year-long public-service announcement", and even details how she gets physically exposed and publicly humiliated when Rafa drags her by the hair in a parking lot in a fit of temper. Yet she never actually stops loving him. Descriptions like these are testament to Junot's ability to create memorable characters, and his unflinching ability to present the EVIL in the characters that we LOVE and desperately want to root for, characters like the cancer-ailing Rafa. There are no monsters and there are no angels, even the "good" people are fundamentally flawed.
In "Invierno", the story of a the child Yunior after first relocating to New Jersey from the Dominican republic-- there's a scene in which his mother tries to practice English with his father, and he shuts her down mercilessly with "You don't have to learn. Besides the average woman can't learn English." This unbearable disrespect and a lack of empathy towards his wife is especially heartbreaking because the people we love and depend on to help us the most are most times the ones who break us the most. They can and sometimes use the power we give them over us to keep us down and disillusion us. It is worse than anything an enemy can do to us.
Junot Diaz is one of the best writers of our time. I look forward to reading (and listening) to whatever he has next.
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