Published: August 11, 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: via audiobook
Three brothers tear their way through childhood — smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from trash, hiding out when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn — he’s Puerto Rican, she’s white — and their love is a serious, dangerous thing that makes and unmakes a family many times.
Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins to see the world, this beautiful novel reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that is sly and punch-in-the-stomach powerful.
Written in magical language with unforgettable images, this is a stunning exploration of the viscerally charged landscape of growing up, how deeply we are formed by our earliest bonds, and how we are ultimately propelled at escape velocity toward our futures.
We the Animals is a raw and hard-hitting look at the lives of three brothers who have seen and been through things that no one should ever encounter. It is told through the perspective of one brother and the things that happen to him and his brothers are sad and heartbreaking. We see how their family life is with a father who is mean and who hits his wife and a mother who is just as bad. We see them accept all that happens in their house as something that is normal and no one shows them otherwise. I felt pain for these brothers who are hopeless, they experience things that are ugly but even with that they always stick together.
This is a short yet powerful novel one that truly packs a punch. The ending of the book is what truly got me. It mainly focuses on the narrator, whom we never find out his name and how he is dealing with all of this. He starts to come into his own and we see how he is dealing with his feelings and the things he has dealt with and how all of this messes with his mind. I see him as trying to find his way and trying to become who he is all at the same time.
This isn’t a novel for everyone like I said it is raw and dark but it is a book that demands to be read. Life isn’t all light and fluffy for everyone, and this novel shows us that there are people who live a hard and scary life. This is a beautifully written novel about dark subjects but if you go into this with an open mind you might just learn something.