Friday, September 30, 2011
Justin Torres and 'We the Animals'
I gobble up the New York Times Book Review and anything related to books and then I go to the library and reserve myself a shelf full of new releases. Eventually these titles arrive and I have no memory of wanting them, no idea why I asked for them. I can't even remember how I heard about them. Such is the case of We the Animals by Justin Torres
Well, I thought. It;s a slim book. Why not give it a shot. I read it in one sitting and was nailed to the floor. This is a memoir as fiction or fiction as memoir tale of a young boy growing up in the boonies, with two brothers. There's a n abrasive, violent and adoring Latino father and a long suffering devoted white mother. There';s poverty and despair, violence, hope, love and most importantly: wonder. This young boy, our protagonist, learns and discovers-people, the country, trees, sex and sexuality.
The boy and his bothers are spanked, yelled at, loved protected and cared for. Papa leaves for another woman and returns. The kids at least take this as business as usual, but the juxtaposing of their acceptance against their mother's anger and depression is remarkable.
I say this all the time. Make me care about your characters and you get yourself a loyal reader. Bravo to Justin Torres!