My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Plot: The three of them—a twelve-year-old boy, his older brother, their father—have won the war: the father’s term for his bitter divorce and custody battle. They leave their Kansas home and drive through the night to Albuquerque, eager to begin again, united by the thrilling possibility of carving out a new life together. The boys go to school, join basketball teams, make friends. Meanwhile their father works from home, smoking cheap cigars to hide another smell. But soon the little missteps—the dead-eyed absentmindedness, the late night noises, the comings and goings of increasingly odd characters—become sinister, and the boys find themselves watching their father change, grow erratic, then violent.
Set in the sublimely stark landscape of suburban New Mexico and a cramped apartment shut tight to the world, One of the Boys conveys with stunning prose and chilling clarity a young boy’s struggle to hold onto the dangerous pieces of his shattered family. Harrowing and beautiful, Daniel Magariel’s masterful debut is a story of survival: two foxhole-weary brothers banding together to protect each other from the father they once trusted, but no longer recognize. With the emotional core of A Little Life and the compact power of We the Animals, One of the Boys is among the most moving and remarkable debut novels you’ll ever read.
My Review: I read this book in one sitting and it was a lot to take in. For some reason all these dark and disturbing books have been crossing my shelf and I just keep diving in and throwing caution to the wind. My mental and emotional well being has been drained after this book. I usually love books that leave me feeling drained. I didn’t love this one though, and its not a book I will read again. The manipulative father was harrowing. I’m not in love with the ending either, it doesn’t have a happy ending but nor does it have a sad ending. I would call it an open ending and it leaves the reader to finish the story in their own imagination.
So what ruined this book for me?
I didn’t miss the characters when the book was over, I didn’t connect with them, I wasn’t worried about what was going to happen to them – Strike One.
The book has a good amount of cussing for such a short read, not something I love – Strike Two.
It seemed like the whole goal of the writer was to shock and horrify you in as short of a period of time as possible, there was never any hope for the boys, no comic relief, just agony, angst, and darkness – Strike Three.
That knocks this book down to a three star read for me. I just wasn’t excited or impressed with it. The brothers didn’t exactly have the type of bond I like to see. They had glimpses of one, but it always fell flat for me. I know a lot of people like this book, but for me – not my cup of tea.
My grade for this book would be R. It has a ton of cussing and some sexual content. And since it is such a short book to fit all this in I wouldn’t let my kid read it. Plus it deals with some very disturbing physical and emotion abuse from a parent, as well as drug and alcohol abuse.