Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Brothers Torres, by Coert Voorhees

The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees (2009-08-11): Books

Francisco Towers is a nobody in his New Mexican high school, compared with his older brother, Steve, a popular senior who is the soccer team's star player, and who has recently accepted a soccer scholarship for a college.  

While Steve is winning his soccer games, hanging out with his girlfriend, and getting drunk with the local cholos and cholas, the tough punk-like guys and girls who are decorated with tattoos and black leather clothes, Frankie is blowing up rocks and anthills with his friend Zach, obsessing over Rebecca Sanchez, his crush, and working at Los Torres, his parents' restaurant.

Frankie has looked up to Steve since he was a toddler, but he couldn't really care less about Steve's efforts to earn respect from the cholos and cholas until Frankie himself finds himself in a fistfight against John Dalton, the rich, popular boy whose parents own the Tortilla Emporium, a company that ships tortillas across the country, and that has been swallowing up smaller companies and family-run restaurants like Los Torres. On top of that, John is just a complete jerk. (Actually, jerk is an understatement.)

That fight launches Frankie into a world he's never known. Steve starts treating him as an equal (as opposed to being treated as the annoying little brother), the cholos respect him, and Rebecca says "yes" when he asks her to be his Homecoming date. 

But John, being the entitled, spoiled brat that he is, will not let this all slide. He retaliates, and that is simply the last straw for Steve. Steve is set on having his revenge against John for beating up his little brother, and nothing will stop him.

Frankie knows he should be on board. John was a jerk to him, to his brother, and to his friends and his parents. But instead, he feels a sense of an impending catastrophe. He is happy that he is finally earning some respect, but Steve may be taking it too far.

Frankie has a choice to make. It's a difficult choice, and as the author himself writes: "Soon he'll have to make a choice between respecting his brother and respecting himself."

The Brothers Torres is a stunning novel that was actually written by a guy my dad used to teach with. I was never originally going to review this book. It had been sitting on my dad's bookshelf for a while, so I didn't have immediate access to it. I was sitting on my bed, reading The Librarian of Auschwitz (which I had reviewed earlier; you can find a link to that post here), when my dad came in, holding this book. He said, "Julia, why don't you review this book next?" So I agreed to consider it, and a few days later, when I was searching for something new to read, I picked it up out of boredom and started to read.

And I must say, no regrets whatsoever. It has replaced The Hunger Games as my (for now, anyway) favorite book of all time. 

This novel has the right level of profane and "mature" humor combined with emotion and a deeper meaning that is heartfelt and strong. I highly, HIGHLY, recommend this novel for anyone 13+, as its use of profanity, mentions of sex, and overall tone may be overwhelming for younger readers (and distressing for their parents).

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