We the Animals

We the Animals

Book - 2011
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"An exquisite, blistering debut novel. Three brothers tear their way through childhood-- smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from trash, hiding out when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn--he's Puerto Rican, she's white--and their love is a serious, dangerous thing that makes and unmakes a family many times. Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins to see the world, this beautiful novel reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that is sly and punch-in-the-stomach powerful. Written in magical language with unforgettable images, this is a stunning exploration of the viscerally charged landscape of growing up, how deeply we are formed by our earliest bonds, and how we are ultimately propelled at escape velocity toward our futures"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
ISBN: 9780547576725
Branch Call Number: FIC TOR
Characteristics: 128 p. ; 21 cm


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Jan 05, 2019

Deep, powerful, and hard to forget

Nov 05, 2018

This debut novel by Justin Torres almost feels like more of an interconnected short story collection, as the chapters are brief and impressionistic and, while it follows three brothers growing up rough in upstate New York, it doesn't have a conventional narrative. I discovered this as part of Powell's National Hispanic Heritage Month reading list (see below). Made into a film.

Mar 29, 2018

Well written vignettes. Touching and entertaining.

CRRL_MegRaymond Feb 26, 2018

Three brothers run wild, playing and fighting - or both, while their too-young parents alternately love and ignore them.

LPL_PolliK Sep 22, 2016

Told in a series of vignettes, in the emerging voice of the youngest son, Torres brings us into this troubled and limping family and shows us the tender bits among the broken, the quick glimpses of what could be while looking out from the eye of the hurricane of what is. A slim, beautiful work that will break your heart just enough to settle in and stay with you.

madison382 Feb 03, 2015

This book really takes you on a journey you will not likely forget for a long time.

multcolib_alisonk May 13, 2014

Let's face it - books that you remember long after you've read them, the ones that make you turn your clock to the wall so you won't know that dawn is approaching and you've stayed up all night reading - those books are few and far between. This is one of those books.

Having grown up with two brothers, I was sure the author was capturing the chaos, fearfulness and bravado of boyhood. And as a child surrounded by boys and living in a place where we had the autonomy to come up with haphazard schemes that often put us in real danger, I felt a real sense of returning to childhood, a world that many adults have forgotten or idealized into a safe, sweet and carefree world.

Nov 23, 2013

This short book is a good one to read for style, so all you aspiring writers out there, take note. The prose is so lyrical and spare that it often reads like poetry, yet there’s a strong narrative quality there, too, making it read like a “page turner.”

It’s telling that the author spent time at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. That place is famous for turning out great stylists. Just look at the list of graduates:


My one criticism of "We the Animals" would be that the “narrative arc” makes too much of a detour at the end of the story, and that the characters’ actions don’t synch with any reasonable expectation the reader might have had. They do things that are out of character and therefore, somewhat unbelievable. This often happens with younger writers who try to stuff a full novel between the covers of a novella: The book reaches the end before the story does, and when this happens, the author is forced to leap over chapters and chapters’ worth of plot and character development, just to get it all in there.

* * * * *

This book could be categorized under number of genres, including:

-Latino writers / Latino subjects (Torres is Puerto Rican)
-Young writers
-Gay Lit
-Coming of Age

It will appeal to people who also like Marilynne Robinson, Tobias Wolfe, J.D. Salinger . . .


P.S. It’s not about animals.

Oct 20, 2013

This short (125 pages), autobiographic novel is about three brothers born to teenage parents, a white mother and Puerto Rican father. Their family life is intense and told in a mosaic of images, like memory. The youngest (unnamed) son breaks away from the family as an adolescent. Although there is some violence in their lifes, there is also tenderness and love. Torres writes well, although at times it verges on the precious. Nevertheless, recommended.

Jan 10, 2013

It is really sad. Why people have children if they cannot take adequate care of them?
There is no excuse for being cruel and neglected parents just because you are struggling to provide for you family and were born in a poor neighbourhood and your parents were also cruel to you. It is horrible but it is a reality that similar things from this book are happening right now around the world. what kind of humanity are we creating?

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