One of the Boys (Hardcover)
I'm starting to realize that there is one real test to determine whether a book is good or not: unforgettability. I've read and forgotten some of the "best" books ever written (this is, in part, due to the fact that during my twenties, if I wasn't reading, I was probably furiously chugging boxed wine). But this book, in spite of the fact that it's short, is one that I couldn't forget even if I wanted to. And part of me does want to forget it. Part of me wants to unread the short, declarative sentences that describe an abuse so vivid and terrifying that you'll actually start to feel it. Part of me wants to unread the addiction, the manipulation, and the beatings. But part of me doesn't. It's a beautifully written story about the choices we make in small moments, and the choices that are made for us by people who are supposed to protect us. It examines the awful permanence of mistakes made hastily that can never be corrected. And how we live through these mistakes, even though it may be hard, and we may not really even want to. I read it in a day. I expect it to stay with me until the boxed wine does me in for good.— Joel
March 2017 Indie Next List
“The intensity of this novel is such that you'll be relieved that it is not longer than its 176 powerful pages. When 'the war' with his wife ends, a man uses devious methods to win custody of his two sons, 12 and 14, packs them in his Jeep, and heads from Kansas to start a new life in Albuquerque. The boys are aware that their father uses drugs, but their loyalty to him and their youth keep them trapped in a home that soon becomes little more than a torture chamber as their father sinks further into his addiction. Narrated in excruciating detail by the younger son, this is a moving story about how parent/child love can be turned on its head by drug abuse. Excellent writing keeps one riveted in hope that the boys will survive.”
— Alice Meloy (M), Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX
A riveting and emotionally harrowing debut about two young brothers and their physically and psychologically abusive father--One of the Boys is 176 perfect, stunning pages by a major new talent.
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.
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 stunning prose and chilling clarity a young boy's struggle to hold onto the dangerous pieces of his shattered family. Harrowing and beautiful, Daniel Magariel's masterful debut is a story of survival: two foxhole-weary brothers banding together to protect each other from the father they once trusted, but no longer recognize. With the emotional core of A Little Life and the compact power of We the Animals, One of the Boys is among the most moving and remarkable debut novels you'll ever read.