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.
One of the Boys, is Magariel’s debut novel and he is a heck of a writer. I read the gripping novella in one sitting and although some parts were difficult to take in, I found myself wanting to read more. However, this somber, dark story is not for everyone. If you are faint of heart and easily shocked, skip this one! The book deals with explicit language, abuse (verbal and physical), and drugs. On the other hand, it is not all gloomy. The love the brothers have for one another is powerful and uplifting. The flow of the novel was steady, but at times I had a hard time knowing if what was taking place was in the present or past. I did it find it interesting the protagonists in the novel have no names, but don’t worry, this does not affect the story one bit. Though the ending was not my favorite, I look forward to future books from Magariel. I hope he can give us a story that is not as dark as One of the Boys, so other readers are willing to give him a try.
I would like to thank NetGalley and Scribner for providing me an ARC copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.