- Hardcover: 176 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (March 14, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1501156160
- ISBN-13: 978-1501156168
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 90 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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One of the Boys: A Novel Hardcover – March 14, 2017
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An Amazon Best Book of March 2017: One of the Boys is an intense, immersive, debut novel that is a shining example of precision storytelling. A 12-year-old boy and his older brother are forced to take sides in their parents’ bitter divorce, and what follows is both unexpected and heartbreaking. Convinced that their mother was the villain of their family story, a frightening truth starts to show through the cracks as they begin a new life with their father. As their father spirals into addiction, the narration of a young boy’s confusion and increasing fear offers powerful insight into an experience most of us can’t begin to imagine. The strength the brothers give each other is a testimony to their bond and how they will find a way out of the increasing violence and irrational behavior that pulls at them like quicksand. Author Daniel Magariel tells a harrowing story of guilt and betrayal tempered by flashes of absurdity and grace that left me deeply grateful for the journey. --Seira Wilson, The Amazon Book Review
From School Library Journal
Reading this short but forceful debut novel is like watching a disaster unfold on the evening news. Teens may wish they'd never tuned in, but they won't be able to look away. The story shifts backward and forward in time to reveal how a father systematically gains his two sons' complete devotion to further his own ends. Scheming with the boys to deprive their mother of her custody rights and using them to shield his growing drug addiction, the father knowingly pits the brothers against each other. But his constant demands isolate them from their peers. As their father turns increasingly violent, the brothers have only each other to turn to in their desperation. First-person narration from the younger boy, 12, is effective. His divided loyalties, guilt, and need to please his father in spite of everything are intensely relatable. Though this work moves toward an inescapably bleak climax, its brevity, surprising snippets of humor, and compelling plot make it a good pick for low-level or reluctant readers. VERDICT Schools and libraries that serve at-risk teens who use book discussion as part of their counseling will want this in their collections.—Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA
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After what seems to be a messy divorce predicated by abuse, a father and his two sons move from Kansas to New Mexico to start over after “the war” (the divorce, as the father calls it). The story is written from the perspective of the younger son who is twelve. The boys attempt to fit in at their new schools while the father works from home, but eventually the father begins using substances heavily. He becomes paranoid and abusive (both physically and psychologically).
After reading that summary, you’re probably wondering, “Where is the end?” Well…after finishing reading, there doesn’t really seem to be one. The boys, their father, and their mother (who is still in Kansas) seem to continue these patterns of quasi-normalcy, substance abuse, abuse, and then repeat. The boys become enablers for their father’s substance use and avoid his wrath (and presence) whenever possible.
Reading this was depressing, as I’m sure it was intended to be. No end in sight of this pattern of behavior for these kids who are in their teens. I can’t help but wonder how this will affect them long-term. The writing was very good – very descriptive, and in some parts almost beautiful. If a writer can make you feel as horrible as you feel at the end of this book, then they have done something right (because otherwise we wouldn’t feel for the characters).
Do I suggest reading this book? It depends, do you want to be made depressed on purpose? If you want to learn what it can be like to live in a substance-dominated household, then yes, most definitely read this. You’ll feel worse than when you started reading and may even struggle to finish it because you can feel that nothing is changing any time soon.
Shortly after their father wins custody, the boys and their father leave their Kansas home and set off for a mystical new life in Albuquerque. The prospect of a new life, just the three of them, is an exciting one. But as they start to get immersed in their new routines, things start to change. Their father's moods become dark and more erratic. Although he tells the boys he is working from home, he doesn't seem to be working much, or even at all. Instead, he is spending hours, even days locked in his room. His cigars don't hide the telltale smell of other things smoked that hangs in, and permeates through, their cramped apartment.
The boys start questioning whether they made the right decision to live with their father. He starts to become paranoid, starts coming and going at odd hours, disappearing at times and leaving the boys with no money. Other times, there are other strange people in the house with him. He lashes out, trying to turn brother against brother in an abusive, ugly test of loyalty to him.
Does their father really have their best interests at heart, as he says he does? Should they continue to trust him, and the strange comings and goings in their new environment, or should they try to go back to Kansas and live with their mother? Will she understand what happened during the divorce, or will she be so mad that she won’t let them back in? Just how bad can life treat these two innocent boys?
One Of The Boys does a fabulous job of accurately conveying the hurt, fear, and hope that these boys feel as they realize they're stuck in the middle of a battle much larger than themselves. What do you do when the person who says they love you, who convinces you you're better off with them, turns out not to be what they say they are?
This is a novel that you can devour in one sitting, and most probably will. Fair warning, if you are squeamish with physical abuse, addiction, or the dark side of life, this book may need to pass you by. For everyone else, this novel is a powerful reminder that children suffer every day across the globe, and we should all seek an answer, or provide a haven for those children in need. This engaging novel is one that will stay with you for a very long time.
Two teenage brothers. The younger one narrates, but I didn’t stick around to see which one would turn out to be the title character. Dad escapes Mom with the boys for a wild ride from Kansas to New Mexico. Dad is a dysfunctional druggie with a Superman complex, yet the boys stick with him despite his pathetic misadventures. I know this because I peeked at the last page, and there they are, Dad and the boys, vrooming off on another wild ride. The book’s cover says it’s “brilliant, urgent, darkly funny, heartbreaking,” but you can’t judge a book by its cover.