This book is Justin Torres' debut, an intense story about three brothers growing up in a household that veers from euphoria to despair in what seems a perpetual state of chaos.
The story is told from the viewpoint of the youngest brother and we are given a series of extracts from their life. It feels quite disjointed, possibly as there is no indication of how much time passes between each piece, but then children often have little concept of time so it suits the story where I might have found it difficult in other books.
The boys have a white mother and Puerto Rican father from Brooklyn, who became parents in their teens. As the story is told from a child's point of view what is happening, particularly between the parents, it isn't always explicit. However we learn enough to understand that despite hardships there is a lot of love and happiness. The three brothers are constant companions and despite all the fights are a tight unit. However as they get older there is a major shift, particularly as our narrator begins to see the world for himself.
To start with I was unsure how I felt about this book, it felt a bit mundane, but by the end I really appreciated how the first part set up the dramatic changes in the second part. It is a strangely beautiful and touching story, and although short at 144 pages felt the right length, understated rather than overdone.
Format: Advance review copy, anticipated release date 1st Sept 2011
My Rating: 4*