We The Animals by Justin Torres

Book Review by Nine | 27 Mar 2012
Book title: We The Animals
Author: Justin Torres

An autobiographical account of a childhood in upstate New York, We The Animals tells the story of three mixed-race brothers born to very young parents, growing up in a volatile household with little money and less stability. Torres' words sear through the pages, bringing to life the crunch of boots through snow, the tension that envelopes every member of the family when a parent is stressed, the narrator's private fears about his own difference, and the giddiness to be found in moments when the boys hit back at their unfair surroundings. The most significant moments of the young storyteller's life are anchored by a switch from first to third person and from past to present tense, as if they continue to be replayed on film somewhere, having happened to someone else. The reader, like the narrator, can never tell when somebody will snap, when an account of carefree playing will turn into violence, and yet the boys come back up for air time and time again, fighting each other and fighting to survive. This is a devastating, heartbreaking, beautifully written debut, one that somehow, through its painful vignettes, still manages to shine with love. [Nine]


Out now. Published by Granta. Cover price £12.99 hardback http://justin-torres.com/