The Brothers Torres Review

The Brothers Torres
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I confess: I simply adore Frankie Towers. I haven't fallen so hard for a character since Ponyboy Curtis in the 7th grade. (And I'm old enough to know better!) You'll fall for him, too, as his honest, witty narration captivates you, enveloping you in his infatuation with the lovely Rebecca Sanchez, who may be even fuller of heart than heat--and she is smokin'--and immersing you in his disappointment with his caring-but-clueless parents. Frankie's voice supplies a fresh and original twist to a timeless teenage tale.
I read the book straight through--couldn't put it down! I loved the realistic dialogue exchanges between Frankie and Zach. What a fun-loving pair of nerds with explosives. (And how refreshing that no one thought they'd blow up the school...on purpose anyway.) These loyal friends could've easily been plucked from my Midwestern classroom (or my husband's friends for that matter). The authentic portrayal of their friendship may be my favorite feature, of many favorite features, of the novel. When Zach comes to Frankie's aid despite his anger, it's such a heart-warming and true moment.
I was particularly struck by the difficulty the boys have in negotiating the social scene and the "masks" so many young men feel pressured to wear to gain respect. In the characters Steve, Frankie's popular older brother, and Flaco, the leader of the local cholos, Mr. Voorhees captures that "tough guise" aspect of male culture, to quote Jackson Katz, and all its complexities exactly right. Working at his parents' restaurant, Frankie discovers an alternative to the allure of the gang in his brother's best friend--and Flaco's cousin--Cheo. Which role model will he choose to follow?
Such a funny and moving story, it had a very strong emotional impact on me. Saturated with details of New Mexican flavors and landscapes and packed with action--on the soccer field, on the school campus, at the local mini-golf, and even a certain vehicle's back seat--The Brothers Torres has universal appeal beyond YA lit. It speaks to that lost and searching sixteen-year-old soul within all of us. Frankie discovers important truths about courage, forgiveness, and tolerance as his childish illusions are shattered by harsh economic realities in their small town of Borges.
A treat as tasty as one of Mrs. Towers' stuffed sopaipillas, you oughta snap up this extraordinary coming-of-age novel and devour it! And somebody smart oughta snap up the film rights.

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