In case you haven't spoken to me all fall, I reckon it's time to let you all know just how much I love Junot Diaz. It took me several readings of the final story in his episodic novel This is How You Lose Her to understand why.
Like his earlier books, TiHYLH is narrated by Dominican-American Junior. Junior teaches at Harvard and is capable of being very good and very bad with the ladies at the same time. Never has he ever not cheated on a girlfriend. And it isn't until the very last paragraph of the last story he tells us does he even show a readiness to correct that behavior.
But he gets there. In the end, he wants to be better. And I think that desire to grow and change is what has drawn me back to this book, especially the final episode, several times this fall. For myself, it's helped me think long and hard about previous relationships and how I'm ready to hope those people turned out to be good people in the end. For teachers, there are some killer mentor sentences, like this closer:
That's about it. In the months that follow you bend to the work, because it feels like hope, like grace--and because you know in your lying cheater's heart that sometimes a start is all we ever get.
If any of your mature, older students are moved by this prose (and your community is open-minded), direct them toward This is How You Lose Her, but it's definitely peppered with too many curse words in multiple languages to make comfortable students forced to read it.