Excerpted from Learning to Lose by David Trueba. Copyright © 2010 by David Trueba. Excerpted by permission of Other Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
1. Which thread of the story captivated you most? Whom do you consider the main character of this novel? In a book with so many strong and complex personalities, why do you think the author chose to open and end the book with Sylvia?
2. What first draws Leandro to the chalet? What keeps him coming back? Discuss his fascination with Osembe, even after she assaults him.
3. Does trust exist between any of the novel's characters?
4. What is life like for Ariel as a celebrity in a foreign land? How does the constant media attention influence his life? How is he able to have such a close relationship with Husky, who is a reporter?
5. How commanding is sex in each of the lovers' relationships?
6. What kind of man and father is Lorenzo? What is his true motive for murdering Paco? What draws Lorenzo to repeatedly visit Don Jaime, the man whose apartment he cleaned out?
7. Do you think Lorenzo should have confessed his crime? Why or why not?
8. Discuss the various friendships in Learning to Lose (Sylvia/Mai, Leandro/Joaquin, Ariel/Husky, Lorenzo/Wilson). How is jealousy intertwined into them? Do any of the friends have ulterior motives?
9. Why does Aurora want to keep her illness a secret from her family? Discuss the bond between Aurora and her granddaughter.
10. Discuss the various ways that chance plays out in the novel.
11. Do you think any of the characters are capable of feeling at ease with their lives?
12. Trueba writes that soccer "is the only line of work where you can do everything wrong in a game and win, and you can do everything right and lose." Discuss the title Learning to Lose with this in mind. Does "learning to lose" apply to one character more than the others?
13. Learning to Lose is almost completely devoid of quotation marks. When they do occur, they never appear around dialogue. Why do you think the author chose this unconventional style choice? How did it affect your reading?