One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel | Read-Along

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    Narrated by a twelve-year old boy, One of the Boys is the story of a shattered family. Emotional and absolutely riveting, Daniel Magariel’s debut novel immerses you into the mind of a child who simply wants to join his father and older brother on their plan of starting a new life away from their mother. There’s nothing more important for our unnamed narrator than to be one of the boys. Winning the war was only the first step to starting over in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Things however are not what they seem when the psychological and physical abuse by the father are about to become a routine ordeal for these children. The story presents us the evolution of two kids as they try to adapt to their new situation, overcome the new challenges of a motherless life and please a father who’s habits become much more evident and destructive. Buddy-read with Trang, One of the Boys has become one of those short yet mesmerizing books of the year. With an ending that had us in awe, we can definitely say that this novel is one that should be read with caution.

    If there’s one thing you learn in life it’s that children rhymes with innocence no matter what. Their young age offers them the opportunity to see life without the corrupted lens of experience. Their action speaks true to their heart and everything they do either comes from trial and error, from what they see or from what they are told to do. It’s this last element that is the most dangerous one as it obliges children to follow a leader and the ability to protest does not come without a fight. One of the Boys does an impeccable job in showing us the darker side of a coming of age story of kids who are trying hard to please their father and perpetuate the hate towards a mother forged by their father. Is the hate justified? It’s as they grow up with their father that they slowly wonder about their past, their actions and the harsh words that were once spoken deliberately towards their mother. It’s during these moments where they ponder their current condition and the life they want to have that things become a lot more contentious for each child and for the dynamic within the family. Antagonizing the mother and showing manipulative behavior are some of the most disturbing elements you find in Daniel Magariel’s debut novel. While the father struggles to remain coherent with himself, his desire to offer his children a new and beautiful life struggles to take life. His words say one thing and his actions say another.

“As impressive as Room and Gone Girl, the dynamic between the characters is magnificent. A manipulative father turns the mother into the Evil Queen through the eyes of the children in order to have them on his side. Both children get influenced by the father, with the youngest never really questioning the actions and the eldest who starts to see something is wrong. Both are still united by the same fear: their father. Childhood is a fragile and plastic stage, and everything the father makes them endure shapes their behavior, but also their way of thinking. It is a journey between loyalty and betrayal, between violence and pardon.”

— Trang, Co-blogger

    This heart-breaking story isn’t only filled with darkness. Even if around every corner something depressingly heartbreaking occurs, it is the glimpse into the little rays of hope that shines through the events that has us holding on to this book tight throughout the ruthless moments. The optimism that can emanate through these characters and that get vulgarized through the words of children make us want to believe that change is possible and good things will happen if they continue to believe in their father’s words. That’s where the innocence of a twelve-year-old child kicks in. This inability to see between the lines and to fight back against their father, the only adult who they can turn to, become an anchor to a life filled with no steps forward, and plenty of steps backward. Not having a mother figure does do incredible damage when the father is incapable of showing proper parental skills. It’s even more tragic when you see these children show immense courage during times where you’d imagine anyone would break and crumble. It’s even more harrowing when you see the kids compensate for the mistakes and lack of presence of the father by taking care of his business and acknowledge the phases he goes through in a routinely manner. There are times where you’ll want to shove this book deep inside your closet and never find out if things will get better. However, One of the Boys is a story that you’ll want to gulp in a single shot. It’s only later that you’ll find yourself regretting doing so as the awful and haunting events that happen throughout the book become far too demoralizing.

    There’s an emotional punch to every sentence in this book. There’s nothing truly complex in the writing as you’d wish when your narrator is a twelve-year-old, but there was still something certainly unusually powerful in the style. At times I found myself amazed by the writing to the point that I felt tethered to the story told and just couldn’t stop hurrying up for more details and progress. However, there also came moments where it hit me that the narrator had a voice that didn’t feel young, but rather lyrical, poetic and adult. This honestly took away the narrator’s ability to completely immerse me in the story, even if there were good chunks of the book where I was absorbed by the writing style and couldn’t believe what was being told. If Daniel Magariel had written it with a little more looseness in the vocabulary and the structure, I would’ve probably ended up tearing up at the ending that was delivered. In fact, One of the Boys has a rather open ending that leaves the readers the choice to decide what really happened. I absolutely loved the epilogue as well, as it adds elements to ponder in regards to the ending that was conveyed.

“I believe that the writing style is more than perfect: simple, captivating and filled with emotion. But it does not capture the style of a twelve-year-old narrator. Having read a lot of books with a child’s voice as a narrator, I can confirm that there’s a certain innocence mixed with a unique curiosity that an adult narrator does not possess.”

— Trang, Co-blogger

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    One of the Boys is not an easy read. It is a beautiful yet horrifying story of abuse and growth. With a father who turned his children against their mother to get custody over them, you quickly enter a fictional world filled with promises and lies. Slowly getting the fuller picture, the children start to see the true face of a father who tries miserably to hide his weaknesses and his despicable habits. Set in a dysfunctional family, the story brings to light the darkness that two children try to fight in their own innocent, yet courageous ways. It’s their coping mechanisms and their attitudes in front of the events that unfold that makes this story so devastating. Daniel Magariel’s debut novel is a short, yet incredibly compelling prose that warrants your attention. However, tread lightly. It is a novel filled with smoke and mirrors that aren’t easily discernible through the eyes of children. Watching these children grow under such conditions of abuse and insecurity can be quite the ride.


THANK YOU TO SIMON & SCHUSTER CANADA FOR SENDING ME AN ADVANCE COPY FOR REVIEW!

Are you interested in One of the Boys?
How about you read this book for yourself!
You can purchase your copy @Amazon Canada or @Chapters Indigo now!
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆/

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15 thoughts on “One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel | Read-Along

  1. Kassie Finley says:

    Sounds interesting. I will get a copy of this book to read. I just finished List of Cages by Robin Roe and it was a roller coaster ride as well. Very much like this one with the struggle of abuse and a troubled home life. Thanks for the review and I look forward to trying this book out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan and Trang (Bookidote) says:

      Thank you so much! I have seen List of Cages around, but have never read it before. One of the Boys is definitely a pretty dark book when you consider the things that go on throughout the story. Hopefully it won’t be too hard on the psyche when you get the chance to read this one! Thank you again for checking out my review! 😀

      – Lashaan

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  2. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    This sounds like a heavy must read. One that I know I want to read and could take so much from, yet I have to shelve it until a time comes where I feel I am ready for all of the emotions. I am a very emotional reader/person and titles like this can wipe me. Beautiful review as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LizScanlon says:

    Wonderful, wonderful review! You seemed to have gotten the point of the book, whereas I couldn’t look past the hurt and the awful and how it tampered with the experience for me… I think the father and mother pissed me off too much to be able to enjoy the delivery… I just wanted to punch these parents so badly! Funnily enough I didn’t like the ending at all and in my head i kept imagining the boys as grown ups with a great life just so I could forget about the present that was delivered in the book. Still- I commend you both for your very profound thoughts on this and it does help me see the book in a different light.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan and Trang (Bookidote) says:

      Thank you so much Liz! I now know exactly why you couldn’t rate it higher. It’s not easy to say “I loved this book.” with all the things that happen and how well it was told. I was honestly hoping that the mother would be a hero in this story, but man… after what she does later in the story (giving up), I couldn’t help but hate her for taking away the kids last hope for a normal life. The father was definitely the worse though. I have seen real life cases of drug addicts who have habits like his and have to give credit to Daniel Magariel for his spot-on portrayal of one of the worst-case scenarios out there.

      The ending was truly insane… Like… With the epilogue, I couldn’t help but think that the kids fell in the vicious circle again and ended up helping the father escape the law. I mean, these kids only wanted a happy and new life with their father, away from their mother. It wouldn’t even be too hard to imagine them thinking that a peaceful life would still be possible. Then again, I’d rather believe that by doing what he did at the very end, he was aiming for a better life, without this kind of paternal figure in their lives.

      Thank you again for your kind words! I’m glad to hear that you can still see the positive elements that comes from reading One of the Boys. 😀

      – Lashaan

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  4. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    This is a wonderful review, and a book I’ll definitely be adding to my to-read list as well. I’m on a little bit of a contemporary slump after reading too many heavy books in one go but when I’m ready to jump back in I’ll try and get around to this book first! 😀
    It sounds beautiful, though heartbreaking, and I’m kind of interested in how the story goes with an unnamed narrator telling it. I haven’t read many books like that but the one I have was another favourite of mine.
    Again great review. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan and Trang (Bookidote) says:

      Thank you soooo much, Beth! Yes, I definitely see your contemporary tear-inducing reading streak! 😀 If you decide to add this one to your TBR, be sure that it won’t be the happiest story you’ll have ever read. No, not at all. Unnamed narrators does add to the fact that these characters could be ANYONE out there and that this story could have been the life of a child somewhere out there (or at least some variation of it). It’s really well-written and such a sad, sad story. I hope you’ll manage to enjoy this dark story, somehow, whenever you get the chance. 😉

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

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