Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees

Frankie spends most of his time working at his parent’s restaurant, blowing things up with his friend Zach, and lusting after his object of affection Rebecca. He also has an older brother whom he looks up to. His brother is the high school soccer star with scholarships to various universities, he’s a chick magnet, and he’s extremely popular. What’s not to look up to?

The Brothers Torres is at its heart, a book about deciding what kind of person you’re going to be. Do you act tough in order to earn respect? Do you go along with things you know to be wrong to gain acceptance? Or do you stand up for what you know is right? Frankie has some tough decisions ahead of him. Decisions made even more difficult by the fact that his brother seems to be headed in the wrong direction and is attempting to pull Frankie along with him.

Frankie is a Hispanic male growing up in small town New Mexico. Spanish is peppered throughout the dialog, New Mexican food (which sounds absolutely scrumptious) is almost a character in this book. It certainly makes several appearances which will set your stomach to rumbling. Anyhow, food is without a doubt a serious issue in this particular town. The Dalton family moved in, bought out old family recipes, and created a restaurant empire. Many of the town residents are now dependent on them for their livelihood. An uneasy situation which rears its head in several situations throughout the book.

Your male readers, Hispanic, African American, Caucasian, etc. - they are all going to be able to relate to this book. Voorhees has captured something essential about what it is like for males to grow up in America today. I saw so many of my library teens in Frankie, his brother Steve, gang-banger Flaco, and the other boys. The posturing, the desire to be tough, the focus on respect, the general lack of understanding about what being a “man” is really about.

And Frankie is just an incredibly likable, sweet, funny, realistic teen boy. His struggles are believable. His character develops at a pace that seems reasonable. He’ll have you rooting for him from the first page. The secondary characters are also extremely well developed. His friend Zach, who in spite of the fact that he now has a glass eye due to an explosion gone wrong still blows things up in the backyard. His brother Steve who has been given too much freedom because of his starring role on the soccer team. Cheo, Steve’s best friend, and so on.

The cover will draw the boys in like flies and the story will keep them hooked.

No comments: