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    Abuse = Business As Usual

    I'm not sure why I expected Daniel Magariel's One of the Boys to be a thriller; perhaps it was the publisher's references to "late night noises," "the comings and goings of increasingly odd characters," and violence. As it turns out, One of the Boys is not a thriller in the sense of a novel which elicits feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, or anticipation, although the sense of anxiety is palpable. Instead, it is something much richer and deeper. The family at the center of One of the Boys is a textbook example of dysfunctionality, with rampant physical and emotional abuse battering the two brothers who, along with their father, are the "boys" of the title. What made this book stand out for me was Magariel's decision to use the younger boy as a first-person narrator recounting events as they occur. I don't think I've ever seen such brutality described in such a matter-of-fact tone by a child, as if he sees nothing that happens as particularly surprising. To him, his life is just "business as usual." My response as a reader was disturbingly visceral; I just wanted to snatch him up and run with him as fast and as far away as possible. Parents especially should brace themselves before opening this book, which insists upon being read in a single sitting. I also recommend that you have your children nearby when you reach the end; I guarantee that you're going to need a hug. This review was based on a free ARC provided by the publisher.

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