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We the Animals: A novel
by Justin Torres
Hardcover : 126 pages
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"We the Animals is a dark jewel of a book. It s heartbreaking. It s beautiful. It resembles no other book I ve read. We should all be grateful for Justin Torres, a brilliant, ferocious new voice." --Michael Cunningham
An exquisite, blistering debut novelThree 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.
Editorial ReviewNo editorial review at this time.
ExcerptWE WANTED MORE
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. ... view entire excerpt...
Discussion Questions1. How does the opening chapter, “We Wanted More,” serve to introduce the rest of the novel? What do you learn about the narrator and his brothers?
2. Now look at the brothers individually—who is Manny, Joel, the youngest brother? What sets them apart? At what point do you begin to see them separate? What separates them? Why doesn’t the youngest have a name?
3. Look at the three brothers as whole—the “we” of the title. What characterizes them as a whole? How do they operate as one unit? Why is it important that there are three?
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