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Confusing,
Interesting,
Insightful

4 reviews

We the Animals: A novel
by Justin Torres

Published: 2011-08-30
Hardcover : 126 pages
4 members reading this now
2 clubs reading this now
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6 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 4 members
"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 novel Three brothers tear their way ...
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Introduction

"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 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.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

WE 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 Questions

1. 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?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Justin Torres grew up in upstate New York, where this novel is set. His work has appeared in Granta, Tin House, and Glimmer Train. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he is a recipient of the Rolón United States Artist Fellowship in Literature, and is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He has worked as a farmhand, a dog-walker, a creative writing teacher, and a bookseller.

Book Club Recommendations

Caution re subject matter
by FTessa (see profile) 05/28/13
If you have members who are particularly averse to homosexual encounters or rough language this is NOT the book for them.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "A Challenging Read"by FTessa (see profile) 05/28/13

Torres's debut novel, We The Animals, is a challenging read. Written in a unique style of prose poetry, it tells the story of three brothers growing up in upstate New York. Our book group was engaged and... (read more)

 
  "Couldn't put it down"by tukees (see profile) 09/30/12

Just can't say enough about this incredible this book. I started this book in the evening and could not put it down until I was finished later that night. This is the book you recommend to your friend... (read more)

 
  "We The Animals: A Novel"by Lynn2 (see profile) 01/13/12

The beginning of this book was true to the title. The description of the boys home life was detailed and interesting. About the time that the story should be wrapping up it ended abruptly. There seemed... (read more)

 
  "We the Animals"by jmpainting (see profile) 01/12/12

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