Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book: We the Animals

Justin Torres's debute novel, We the Animals, tells his childhood with two brothers and two very broken parents. Such stories remind us all of the diversity of families we live among. An excellent and engaging literary piece, he has passages that require repeated rereading.For example, it opens with the following:

We wanted more. We knocked the butt ends of our forks against the table, tapped our spoons against our empty bowls; we were hungry. We wanted more volume, more riots. We turned up the knob on the TV until our ears ached with the shouts of angry men. We wanted more music on the radio; we wanted beats; we wanted rock. We wanted muscles on our skinny arms. We had bird bones, hollow and light, and we wanted more density, more weight. We were six snatching hands, six stomping feet; we were brothers, boys, three little kings locked in a feud for more.

Sounds like a typical house with three loud and thrashing boys, yes? But in my ego-centric way, I think of such a household through my own eyes -- a mom, a grown-up, a female. Torres allows us a wonderful brash glimpse of one boy's view. A literary romp through a young man's coming of age...