Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

We the Animals by Justin Torres

Posted by Caitie F on October 10, 2011

Title: We the Animals
Author: Justin Torres
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publication Date: Sept, 1 2011
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Rating: +++

Summary from goodreads:

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.


I picked up this novella at BEA. The people at Harcourt were raving about it and I was intrigued.  The thing they raved about the most was the writing. And on that count they were 100% correct. This was a beautifully written book. Torres’ grasp of language far exceeds most writers, including writes I love.

This is called a novel, but to me it felt more like a series of short stories all about the same five people. Each chapter wasn’t really connected to the next. It was never they next day or month, it was just later. I actually really enjoyed that. It felt like I was glimpsing into the life of this family and getting to see the incidents that were important. Was it always pretty? No, but that made it feel real.

My major problem was with the ending. It jumped quite randomly to late teenaged years and went in an unexpected direction. That in itself isn’t bad, but the purpose was not clear. It felt like I was missing a hundred pages. How the character got there and what happened to him after were not disclosed and it made the novella feel incomplete and confusing.

That said, I will pick up the next work by Justin Torres because he is a fantastic writer.


3 Responses to “We the Animals by Justin Torres”

  1. […] 9. Boys and Girls Together by William Goldman 9. 10. Peril at End House by Agatha Christie 10. 11. We the Animals by Justin Torres 11. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  2. I think I enjoyed this one more than you did. The ending just stunned me and I had to talk to someone about it after I finished it.

  3. […] at End House by Agatha Christie 10. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie 11. We the Animals by Justin Torres 11. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

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