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One of the Boys
Cover of One of the Boys
One of the Boys
A Novel
Borrow Borrow
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.
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.
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About the Author-
  • Daniel Magariel is an author from Kansas City. His work has appeared in Granta, Lit Hub, Salt Hill, Stop Smiling, and Issue Magazine, among others. One of the Boys, his first novel, was a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice and Amazon Best Book of 2017, and was published in twelve countries. He has a BA from Columbia University, as well as an MFA from Syracuse University, where he was a Cornelia Carhart Fellow. He currently lives in New York with his wife. Visit him at DanielMagariel.com.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 23, 2017
    The unnamed boys of the title of Daniel Magariel’s spare and piercing debut novel are the 12-year-old narrator, his older brother, and their father. The trio are headed from Kansas to New Mexico to begin a new life after a brutal divorce and custody battle referred to by the father as “the war.” The narrator, complicit in lying about his mother’s negligence so his father could gain custody, at first treats his new life like the adventure he was promised that it would be. But when his father’s violent tendencies and severe drug addiction become increasingly apparent, the narrator finally begins to make sense of the divorce and the true source of the family’s demise. The urgent present action of the novel—in which the brothers adapt to their new life while tiptoeing around their erratic and largely absent father—is combined with flashbacks portraying life before the family’s collapse, ultimately creating a stunning and tragic portrait of both the joys and limitations of love. Agent: Bill Clegg, the Clegg Agency.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Gibson Frazier's pensive tone conveys a subtly tragic atmosphere that fits the somber events of Mageriel's story. A father and his two children move from Kansas to New Mexico after a custody fight. While the children attempt to establish their new lives, their father declines, falling into drug use as well as physical and emotional abuse. Throughout the audiobook, listeners will be anchored by Frazier's performance. He unflinchingly conveys the story's most difficult passages while finding the right level of thoughtful nuance. For example, in one scene a child sustains physical injury in order to deceive child protective services. Through it all, the father admonishes his youngest son to "be one of the boys." S.P.C. � AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine
  • Library Journal

    July 1, 2017

    At just three and a half hours, Magariel's debut novel should be a quick listen--time-wise, that's obviously true--but be warned: this affecting, hypnotic tragedy will linger and haunt long after. Narrator Gibson Frazier--pitch-perfect in his characterization of the two abused brothers--is especially chilling as the father who can go from buoyant to snarling without warning. In the tumultuous wake of acrimonious family disintegration, the father takes his two sons--the younger just 12, who's been coerced into being "one of the boys" by rejecting his mother--from their Kansas home and relocates to New Mexico: "We'll all be kids again," the father promises. The brothers adapt, both proving especially--talented on the basketball court. Their father, however, spirals out of control: his cigars are replaced by more debilitating substances, his hands (and almost anything they touch) become weapons, his mind and heart increasingly incapacitated. Trapped and desperate, the brothers know they won't survive--but escape is a formidably daunting risk. VERDICT Precise, riveting, incandescent, Boys belongs on multiple shelves, in multiple formats.--Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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