We The Animals by Justin Torres

Three brothers, the unnamed 7-year-old narrator, Joel, and Manny (both slightly older) .. the three sons to a white mom and a Puerto Rican father who can barely take care of themselves, let alone three sons.  As the boys watched their parents through love and war,

Lacking basic care such as food and shelter…. the brothers go about their days wearing hand me down clothes tied with cords, entertaining themselves through make-believe war games, exploring their environment, and trying to understand this thing called life. 

As the story continues and the boys grow the narrator finds he is drifting from them and the “we”, becomes “they” and eventually…


Author Justin Torres



Rough.  Raw.  We The Animals has left me in a bit of awe…. its hard to describe and as I try to write a synopsis of the book – I know I am not doing it justice.  On audio, as I experienced it, it is a jumble of life stories from the one sons perspective.  Each chapter tells a story… piecing together a life story.

The boys mimic what they see… they use the language of anger their parents use towards each other and the words of forgiveness they also have witnessed.  They mimic, and they share, and they learn…

At first the audio feels chaotic, story to story…. rushing to and from one thing to the next.  I find myself piecing it together… it felt crashing and rolling….

and then it changes, a change I did not see coming and as I listen to it on the audio I pull in my breath tensing against what I believe is being told… what  I know… is being told.


Is it a love story?  Yes 

Is it a story of adolescence?  Yes

And it’s also about family, about poverty, about hardships, and family, and strength, and about growing into who you are… no matter what that may mean.

Overall… I am surprised I was unaware of what this book was coming too, but in a way – I am also impressed with the author’s choice to take an already good book… to another level.  I am sitting here after the audio has ended… processing what I had not seen…


Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading map has been updated to include We The Animals


I received this audio from Blackstone Audio

18 thoughts on “We The Animals by Justin Torres

  1. Wow! I am greatly intrigued now!
    The question is…should I read it or listen to it? hmmm.
    It is going on my list to read, for sure, and prioritized to read much sooner than later.

  2. This sounds like a gritty story that’s down to earth where people live, showing us life with all its complexities.

    In some ways, it reminds me of one I’m reading called Beautiful Children…a story of family issues, street children, and how life can turn on a dime.

  3. I just finished this book and did my review so I’m just googling around to read other’s reviews and I like yours. It is a love story, isn’t it. Love that part of your review.

  4. PS. LOVE YOUR MAP. That’s so awesome. I’m doing that challenge as well and I never thought of that.

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