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We the Animals  By  cover art

We the Animals

By: Justin Torres
Narrated by: Frankie J. Alvarez
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Publisher's Summary

An exquisite, blistering debut novel.

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.

©2011 Justin Torres (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

" We the Animals is a dark jewel of a book. It’s heartbreaking. It’s beautiful. It resembles no other book I’ve read. We should all be grateful for Justin Torres, a brilliant, ferocious new voice." (Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author)

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What listeners say about We the Animals

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  • Overall
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I want my credit back!

I think it would have been more accurate description to have explained this is about a gay man. I was very uncomfortable listening to the episode of him watching child porn with a neighbor or when he goes to the bus station as a teenager to have sex with strangers. And the childhood stories are often sad and disturbing. I suppose it is a thought provoking story but not a very enjoyable one. I wouldn't have gotten this if the description better represented the actual book.

8 people found this helpful

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Brilliant!

This beautifully crafted novel is written with amazing authenticity, and delivers a powerful and complex coming of age story. The rhythmic texture and emotional force of the text are well suited to the audible format and nicely narrated.

5 people found this helpful

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A change in focus

This novel, which reads more like a memoir, begins with a wonderful tale of three rambunctious boys, fighting and causing trouble and trying to figure out their weird mother and financially strapped and sometimes absent father. Then, two thirds of the way through, the focus shifts to the narrator's self-discovery as he grows up. His differences separate him from his older brothers, which is downplayed but sad.

The novel is beautifully written, with a gritty realistic feel throughout, even in some of the less credible scenes. The characters are lively and likeable, often when they are being mean or irresponsible. As the narrator grows up, his writing becomes more poetic.

Frankie J. Alvarez does a good job with the narration.

3 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

Started out very good, well written but then just fell apart, no relevant transition, very choppy

3 people found this helpful

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Moving!

Justin Torres has written a great, illuminating story that is well narrated by Frankie J. Alvarez. "We the Animals" is very moving and I found myself overcome with emotion. All I could manage to say was "wow."

3 people found this helpful

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Did not catch my interest

I felt the story was sometimes hard to follow regarding what was going on, like trying to decipher poetry. And at no point did the story really grab my attention. I was surprised regarding the ending but don't see how the story supported it. I didn't connect with the characters, they all kind of annoyed me. I finished the book because it was chosen for book club but I didn't enjoy it at any point.

2 people found this helpful

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We are all Animals!

Rambunctious, noisy, boisterous, hungry, or simply just being adolescent, that makes you one of the animals. Be different, you will be a cast away, adrift, alone, left by your families, no longer be part of the pack. Dark lyrical prose to fine storytelling, we are all animals.

2 people found this helpful

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sad story

This is an emotionally riveting book. I enjoyed the story until the last chapter. I struggled to understand the ending.

1 person found this helpful

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Deeply emotional, raw and introspective

Trigger warning: This book does contain depictions of domestic violence (physical, verbal, and sexual) towards women and children.

The narration of the book was done well and really helped the characters come alive. I very much enjoyed listening to it.

The story itself explores the complexity of growing up with a confusing mix of all the good and bad moments of living in an abusive household. A deeply introspective look at how the little moments build upon more traumatic events till they reach that critical moment where everything comes crashing down.

1 person found this helpful

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Ugh

Horrible story. Good cautionary tale about teenage pregnancy. Save yourself 3+ hours and skip this one.

1 person found this helpful