Jenny Lyons of the Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury, Vt., recommends One of the Boys (Scribner Book Company) by Daniel Magariel. A 12-year-old boy, his older brother, and their father leave their Kansas home having “won” a bitter divorce and custody battle. They get a fresh start in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a mythical idyll in their father’s memory, go to school, start work, caught up in the excitement of their escape. But things go downhill quickly: the father grows erratic, his drug use overpowering him; the boys are forced to cover for him and take care of him at the expense of their own education and well-being. This novel, though slim, packs a punch. The story author Daniel Magariel writes is filled with such horrors, yet it is still a story of hope and human resilience. It's just incredible. The characters are fully realized, three-dimensional, human beings. The 12-year-old narrator's voice is the most authentic I have encountered in recent fiction. Even in the darkest moments, Magariel reveals flashes of their father's humor and his humanity, and you can see the tragedy is now his existence. The father could so easily have been the most despicable character, but the straight-forward narration and the flashback at the end is heartbreaking. This is impeccable writing and a gut-wrenching story.
As previously published in the March 16 issue of Arts & Leisure section of Addison Independent.