This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz like the title alludes to is nine short stories about relationships. No, it’s not the “love at first sight type.” The short stories are somewhere between what was hoped for and the muddiness of what is in relationships. In “Miss Lora” the reader follows Junior’s romance with an older woman. While in “The Cheater’s Guide To Love” Junior tries to reignite the flame with the love of his life after being caught cheating with fifty girls.
The nine stories lost a little flare by not having a connecting plot. But most are intertwined beyond theme through the characters: Junior, Rafa (Junior’s older brother), Mami and Papi appearing in most of the stories. There is this notion of time progressing for changes like Rafa’s cancer in “Nilda” is accounted for in another story.
After reading two of Junot Diaz books, I feel like the second point of view is his most explosive way to tell a story like he does in “Alma”, “The Cheater’s Guide to Love”, “Flaca” and “Miss Lora.” At least four other short stories are written in the first point of view and “Orravida, Ortravez” is the only story where a woman is the narrator.
A popular writing adage is “write what you know.” Junot does this through the family dynamics woven into each short stories. Rafa who could do no wrong in his Mami’s eyes. Mami whose inability to speak English disconnects her from the community. And Papi who refuses to reveal his whereabouts to Mami beyond “working” brings Dominican stories to a larger audience.
I recommend teaching This Is How You Lose Her. I taught “The Cheater’s Guide To Love” alongside “What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver and the class preferred Junot Diaz. This book is also good for writers who want to see more complex prose and people who love and are curious about Dominican culture.
Rashaun J. Allen (@rashaunjallen) is an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature candidate at SUNY Stony Brook, where he is working on Christine’s Dream – A Memoir of Love, Loss & Life. He is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment and has been featured in The South Hampton Review. Find more of his work at www.rashaunjallen.com