Book Review | Learning to Lose

Title: Learning to Lose

Author: David Trueba

My Review:

Learning to Lose by David Trueba is an expressive and haunting look at the lives of  four individuals. 16-year-old Sylvia embraces adulthood in surprising ways after 20-year-old Ariel, a rising soccer star, hits her with his car and breaks her leg. The two become involved in a romantic relationship that changes the course of their futures. While Sylvia is growing up faster than her newly single father can comprehend, Lorenzo has committed a gruesome murder and must face the ramifications of his actions. Lorenzo’s father Leandro faces the inevitable death of his wife, and seeks to recapture his youth by becoming involved with a prostitute.

At just shy of 600 pages, Learning to Lose requires a lot of time and patience from the reader. Luckily, the author’s skills of creating highly realistic and intriguing characters are superb, and his writing flows smoothly and poetically. There is nothing especially unique about any of the main characters, nor are any particularly easy to relate to, but I don’t feel that was the point of this novel. Each of these characters is a representation of a different time in any person’s life: the brink of adulthood (Sylvia), the taste of first success and failure (Ariel), the despair of losing everything (Lorenzo), and the first brush with death and the realization of one’s own mortality (Leandro). As humans we constantly going through changes, and Trueba showcases the connections that form between individuals through these characters.

All of the characters were so well developed, and each of their individual stories were captivating, but I just couldn’t help feeling that this was too lengthy and drawn out of a read to get his point across. Even after reading it and trying to absorb everything I’e just read over the past two weeks it took me to finish Learning to Lose, I’m still left wondering if I understood everything and am appreciating this novel for all of the right reasons.

Learning to Lose really challenged me as a reader. Liking the characters has always been important for me, but I wasn’t particularly empathetic for any of them as they all seemed to lose the thing or person that gave them their purpose. I realized that a truly engrossing novel doesn’t need to rely on lovable (or even likable) characters to make its mark in the literary world.

*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*


Jen currently lives in Utah with her family, and enjoys reading and writing in her spare time. She is active on popular book websites including,, and

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