We the Animals: Book summary and reviews of We the Animals by Justin Torres

We the Animals

A Novel

By Justin Torres

We the Animals
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2011,
    144 pages.

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Upon finishing, readers might be tempted to start again, not wanting to let it go." - Kirkus

"Torres is clearly a gifted writer with a special talent for tone and characterization. His novel is a pleasure to read." - Booklist

"The short tales that make up this novel are intriguing and beautifully written, but take too long to reach the story's heart, the narrator's struggle to come of age and discover his sexuality in a hostile environment." - Publishers Weekly

"In punchy, energized language, the narrator of this dark and affecting little book relates life with his two brothers and their too young, just-making-it parents...Highly recommended." - Library Journal

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Helen G. Kin
Unstoppable Read
I read this book in one sitting. Yes, it is brief, but the story and how it is told fuelled and propelled this reader. The story races along a rutted, winding, littered road with steep ascents and descents with a driver who is unafraid of hairpin and no-shoulder curves. I loved it.

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More Information

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.

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