One of the Boys is a heartbreaking debut novel about two boys and their father, starting a new life in Albuquerque. At first, I thought maybe, just maybe, it was a good thing these boys were no longer with their mother, whom they all claim to hate. Their father, a dreamer (narcissist?), says they’ll have a wonderful life, that he’ll be a kid again if they can get a fresh start.
Once in New Mexico, each of the boys misses school to help their father with work. The twelve-year-old narrator describes his father’s insistence, how much he needs their help, with compassion and understanding. Sometimes things can’t be helped. Soon, however, their father’s adamant respect for privacy leaves the boys parent-less when he holes up in his room for days on end. They weather the storms of their father’s drug addiction, but then he becomes violent. The boys question their loyalty to their father and mother, but never each other.
What could be a depressing story of abuse is instead hopeful. In the absence of parents, the boys rely on each other, creating an undeniable resiliency and a strong bond. The narration, from the point of view of a seventh grader, is believable and effortless. This book will captivate you and you won’t regret it.