*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: One of the Boys
Author: Daniel Magariel
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
Magariel’s One of the Boys is a heartbreaking tragedy of a family torn apart by drug use, emotional manipulation, and physical abuse. It’s a tough read to swallow and I had quite a hard time digesting things as I read. The author does not shy away from the intense difficulties that the two young boys face as their father falls further and further away into his life of drugs and abuse. For him, the hits take precedents over his children. He does what he can to manipulate them to get them away from his wife, and then to pit them against each other, using them to his sick ends. It’s quite terrible to read and even more terrible when you realize that this actually occurs in our world. Thankfully, it’s not a long book and Magariel has a very readable style. It’s quick to get through, but is powerful despite is small size.
What I thought was most intelligently crafted was the fact that no names are used for the main family. They are “me”, “brother,” “father,” and “mother.” I believe it is the author’s intent to use the tactic so that this family can really be any family in America. It’s not a story about a specific family, it’s more of a comment on the terrible reality that many families face across the country and around the world. Although one cannot “enjoy” this story in the traditional sense, it definitely can be appreciated for employing writing strategies such as these.
I had a hard time rating this book, but I could only give it three stars because there was nothing in it to redeem the terrible and tragic deeds done within the plot. I’m someone who likes hope or happiness at the end of the book, and there wasn’t enough given in One of the Boys to leave me feeling better about what I’d just read. This story really traps the reader within the confines of the story, the way that the boys are trapped under their fathers quote unquote protection. In terms of composition, this book is well-written and employs strong literary devices, but because I found the content too much to handle, I don’t think I could read it again.
I wouldn’t deter you from reading. It’s a thought-provoking and devastating story. For those of you who have read it, I’d love to know what you think. 🙂