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Learning to Lose

A Novel

by David Trueba

Learning to Lose
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • Published in USA  Jun 2010
    608 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Hydee F. (Salt Lake City, Utah) (06/21/10)

Learning to Lose
I procrastinated in starting this book because I didn't think I was going to enjoy it, but I was very, very wrong. I could not put this book down once I started it!

Trueba writes in such a raw, and real way, revealing the best and worst of each of his characters in a way that makes you feel compassion for them and their story. I was actually embarrassed for them at times. Each of the character's stories were enthralling, but in the end, I wanted more of Sylvia! I want to watch this young woman grow up and see how the rest of her journey turns out.

This was a marvelous read, I wish more of Mr. Trueba's work was translated to English!
Claire M. (Hilton Head, SC) (06/01/10)

Learning to Lose
A great read! A story of 3 generations of a Spanish family in Madrid and the ramifications of choices they’ve made. Fate has certainly set before them incidents that lead to those choices and the questions of immigration and sport as business are issues in the background.

Lorenzo retreats from Aurora's impending death by becoming overly fascinated with an African prostitute. Leandro, who has murdered his former business partner and whose wife Pilar has left him, becomes involved with an Ecuadoran au pair and daughter Sylvia is hit by a car driven by Ariel, a newly arrived Argentinean soccer player. The novel centers primarily on where the choices lead Lorenzo, Leandro, Sylvia and Ariel.

The questions and problems of each couple are timeless and Trueba (with his able translator) has written a beautiful novel, which speaks to the truth of who we are and how we define, or are defined by, our relationships. This is a novel to be read by anyone who likes to keep up with European literature as well as book clubs interested in exploring generational choices in living, and finding comfort in life.
Jane R. (Plantation, FL) (06/01/10)

Just could not get into it
I have picked this book up several times to read it and I have just not been able to get into it. I've read about 50 pages, which isn't much, but usually I should be engaged with the characters, plot or something by this point, but so far - nothing.
Bonnie B. (Fairbanks, AK) (06/01/10)

Living and Losing
Learning to Lose has an interesting narrative but I feel like the novel was blunted somewhat by the translation. I believe that it would read more fluently in Spanish. The story is about an inter-generational family. There is Sylvia, 16 years old, who gets run over by Ariel, a 20 year-old soccer player from Argentina. They begin an intense relationship. Lorenzo, Sylvia's father, is raising Sylvia primarily by himself as his wife left him for another man. He is also dealing with the after-effects of murdering his ex-business partner. Then there is Leandro, Sylvia's grandfather, who is caught up in a web of sexual addiction. He loves his wife but can't stop himself from spending all of his money on a Nigerian prostitute. The chapters are told from the perspectives of different characters, a technique I enjoy. Soccer enthusiasts will especially enjoy this novel.
Patricia K. (Los Angeles, California) (05/28/10)

Learning to Lose
I started the book several times, and almost put it down, not getting beyond the first chapter. The third time, I fell in love with this book. The story is told of four connected characters, from different generations, all searching for a lasting human connection.

Trueba explores themes of immigration, aging, loneliness, and the angst of teenage years against the background of Madrid. His characters are rich and he draws you into caring for them, despite their flaws.

Overall a very satisfying read.
Denice B. (Fort Bragg, CA) (05/28/10)

Learning to Lose
The language of Learning to Lose is wonderful (is it the writer, translator, or both?), though the book is a little too long. At about page 150, I wanted things to move along a bit more, but all in all, a uniquely woven story with well-developed characters, most of whom I cared about.
Anita P. (Honeoye Falls, NY) (05/24/10)

Worthy literary read for book clubs or the classroom
This book gets kudos on several fronts - - its realistic portrayal of relationships, its incredible depiction of the male point of view of love and loss, and its subtle reflections on death. A lot happens in "Learning to Lose", but none of it is over dramatized or maudlin . . .and that's in part that the author took his time weaving his tale of three unique, but connected, relationships. Unfortunately, the pacing of the book wasn't quite right for me - - it's very long and parts of it were slow. However, in this case, I think the slower pacing was merited as it really let you feel the evolution of the characters in such a realistic way.
Hannah J. (Chicago, IL) (05/20/10)

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!
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