We the Animals

Honoree, 5 Under 35 2012

We The Animals book cover
ISBN 9780547576725
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
author photo of Justin Torres. (Photo credit: JJ Geiger)
Justin Torres

Justin Torres is the author of We the Animals, which won the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, was translated into 15 languages, and was adapted into a feature film. He was a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University, and a Cullman Center Fellow at the New York Public Library. More about this author >

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Three brothers tear their way through childhood — smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from trash, hiding out when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn — he’s Puerto Rican, she’s white — and their love is a serious, dangerous thing that makes and unmakes a family many times.

Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins to see the world, this beautiful novel reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that is sly and punch-in-the-stomach powerful.

Written in magical language with unforgettable images, this is a stunning exploration of the viscerally charged landscape of growing up, how deeply we are formed by our earliest bonds, and how we are ultimately propelled at escape velocity toward our futures.


Justin Torres and Jessica Hagedorn at the 2012 5 Under 35 Celebration

2012 5 Under 35 Panel Discussion (part 1 of 2)

2012 5 Under 35 Panel Discussion (part 2 of 2)