“We were monsters – Frankenstein, the bride of Frankenstein, the baby of Frankenstein. We fashioned slingshots out of butter knives and rubber bands, crouched under cars and flung pebbles at white women – we were the Three Bears, taking revenge on Goldilocks for our missing porridge. The magic of God is three.”
“WE WANTED MORE. We knocked the butt ends of our forks against the table, tapped our spoons against our empty bowls, we were hungry. We wanted more volume, more riots. We turned up the knob on the TV until our ears ached with the shouts of angry men. We wanted more music on the radio; we wanted beats; we wanted rock. We wanted muscles on our skinny arms. We had bird bones, hollow and light, and we wanted more density, more weight. We were six snatching hands, six stomping feed; we were brothers, boys, three little kings locked in a feud for more.”
“When we three were together, we spoke in unison, one voice for all, our cave language. ‘Us hungry,’ we said to Ma when she finally came through the door. ‘Us burglars,’ we said to Paps the time he caught us on the roof getting ready to rappel – and later when Paps had us on the ground and was laying into Manny, I whispered to Joel, ‘Us scared,’ and Joel nodded his head towards Paps, who was unfastening his belt, and whispered back, ‘Us fucked.'”
One Million Page Princess
December 9th 2014
I’m one of three children. Growing up, sometimes I loved it, and sometimes I hated it. Sometimes we had each other’s backs and it was us, the three musketeers, against the world. Sometimes it was simply every kid for themselves. We have two girls with one boy in the middle, so while the dynamic was definitely not the same as three brothers, I found this book relatable in terms of the sibling interaction. Growing up, we were either the best of friends, or the worst of enemies. Same with the three “animals” in this book.
We The Animals is the debut novel from author Justin Torres, and is about three “half-breed” brothers raised in Brooklyn by their Puerto Rican father and Caucasian mother. The book starts out written in the first person plural pronoun “we”, but as they grow up, gradually shifts to the first person singular perspective of the youngest brother, age 7. While the story is more of a collection of strung together snippets in time than it is a fluid novel, it manages to address issues of domestic violence, bullying, racial discrimination, and homosexuality with integrity and a level of honesty that is rarely seen today. As the quotes I selected illustrate, Torres’ uses an abundance of anaphora, which can become annoying, but in this case I really enjoyed it and felt like it added quite nicely to the chaotic tone of growing up as one of three boys.
I really liked this one, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. If you’re looking for a piece of inspiring writing, or grew up in a family full of rough-housing hooligan brothers, then give it a shot. If you’re looking to fall deeply in love with a cast of characters and fully fleshed out plot line, then pass.
I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the year, and the end of my quest to read 52 books! It’s going to be a close one, but ideally with some extra time off from work around the holidays I will be able to accomplish my goal. Fingers crossed for me friends!
Until next time,