One of the Boys

One of the Boys

eBook - 2017
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Simon and Schuster
A “gripping and heartfelt” (The New York Times Book Review) story about two young brothers contending with the love they have for their abusive father, One of the Boys is “one of the most striking debut novels of the year” (Rolling Stone).

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 worrisome, and the boys find themselves watching their father change, grow erratic, then dangerous.

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 propulsive prose and extraordinary compassion a young boy’s struggle to hold onto the pieces of his shattered family. Tender, moving and beautiful, Daniel Magariel’s debut is a masterful story of resilience and survival. With the emotional core of A Little Life and the speed of We the Animals, it is “A knockout...A shimmering, heartbreaking portrait of children fiercely devoted to a damaged parent and of the intense sibling bond that helps them through” (People).

Publisher: Scribner,, 2017
ISBN: 9781501156182
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Baker & Taylor Axis 360
Alternative Title: Axis 360 eBooks


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May 18, 2017

Very scary and disturbing story...but so well written that I couldn't put it down. Not the kind of book I usually read (i.e., children in peril) but this one caught me. I picked it up because it had a good recommendation by George Saunders, but now I will look forward to both Mr. Saunders' and Mr. Magariel's next books.

May 11, 2017

This was a really good story with characters you really want to unpack, but Magariel -- I'm sure for some reason -- left the characters a bit flat. I wanted to know so much more about this fractured family. The relationship between the two brothers is heartbreakingly real if you know what it's like to protect a sibling or be protected by one from familial abuse. The back-and-forth relationship with their absent mother is mystifying, alluring -- but remains a dropped thread by the end of the book. A bit more tightness in plot and character development would've made this a solid 4-star affair.

However, Magariel's writing is something to be enjoyed and savoured. It veers from conversational and observational to poetry, sometimes so seamlessly it leaves you astounded. I re-read certain parts to the point of tears, then moved on for "plot development" :) Sometimes I get so hung up on how a writer writes, that the story stops mattering.

But now let me tell you why I'm giving this 4 stars, despite its foibles. One, Magariel's writing. Two, I can complain about minor details all I want, but the fact is, I was in a mishap this week that's interfering with my usual activities, but I had to finish reading this book. My hands are sore and swollen, I can't hold the hardcover I got from the library, so I finished reading the eBook copy on my iMac. Praise good stories.

Read this book.


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