Hannah J. (Chicago, IL)
Learning to Lose teaches us more than that
I always like to read stories that take place in other countries; usually, however, they also take place in another time. What's great about Learning to Lose is that it's a contemporary novel that shows the more we know people in other countries, the more we'll see they're just like us. Dealing with divorce, changing marriage roles or the troubles fame and promises of fortune can toss your way, these characters are very likable in all their faults and failures. The writing is very good with plenty of engaging details and parallels in the story. A good read!
Betsey V. (Austin, TX)
A poignant, character-driven story
Three generations of one family in Madrid--grandfather, father, and daughter--and a rising-star soccer player from Buenos Aires, are struggling with inner demons as well as external chaos and change. The novel opens when Sylvia's father, Lorenzo, has murdered a man who is responsible for his financial failures. His 71-yr-old father, Leonardo, an unsuccessful pianist, is addicted to a Nigerian prostitute. Sylvia, only 16, meets and has a secret love liaison with Ariel, the charismatic 20 -yr old soccer player. Aurora, Leonardo's wife, is slowly dying.
This erudite and observant story drew me in gradually. It could have kept me on the edge of my seat; however, the author, while not losing focus, does meander and clog up the story occasionally with superfluous detail. But, superb characterizations--this is where the author shines. (And you'll learn a lot of tasty nuggets about some of the great classical composers.) Wry and aware. An unpredictable but satisfying ending. Truthful, laconic, redemptive and thoughtful.
Will Lorenzo get away with murder? Will Sylvia and Ariel go public and survive the odds? What kind of disasters await Leonardo? Read the book to find out.
Liz C. (Portage, MI)
Learning to Lose
David Trueba is an intelligent, insightful writer. He brilliantly captures the lives of his characters, which include a sixteen year old girl, a twenty year old professional soccer player, a middle aged man, and his elderly father. His ability to portray the actions and innermost thoughts of such a diverse group of individuals in such detail and so honestly is remarkable. (Sylvia is one of the most mature, self-aware sixteen year olds I’ve encountered in fiction, but nonetheless is authentic and believable.) As much as I enjoyed reading Learning to Lose while I was reading, it wasn’t a book I was eager to pick up once I’d put it down. I found it a little short on action, and at nearly 600 pages, very long, too long. I am happy to have had the opportunity to read this Spanish writer I may not have otherwise encountered; I would recommend Learning to Lose to those who enjoy international literary fiction.
Wendy F. (Kalamazoo, MI)
Very disappointing book. The plot sounded so good but it truly just plodded along. And extremely long!!
Karen T. (Auburn, MA)
Lacked a translation that gave the story justice
I had a lot of trouble getting through this selection. It had a lot of good potential for a great storyline, but the errors/lack of a strong translation took away from it. I don't like giving a poor review, but in this instance I just have no choice.
Mary Lou F. (Naples, FL)
Learning the game
This book is very well written and the characters are very descriptive. Any one that enjoys soccer or wants to know about the soccer world would really enjoy this book. After reading this book, I appreciate the pressure athletes have put on them, both on and off the field.
Lucy B. (Urbana, Ohio)
I had a difficult time with this book. It was not one that I started reading and couldn't lay down; I had a lot of starts and stops. Personally, I could not recommend this book to my reader's group. There are too many really interesting books out there to waste time on this one.