‘One of the Boys’ by Daniel Magariel – The Father from Hell


‘One of the Boys’ by Daniel Magariel   (2017) – 165 pages

‘One of the Boys’ is an ultra-realistic fictional account of a monstrous family situation told from the younger twelve year-old son’s point of view.

A married couple from Kansas is divorcing, and there is the question of who gets custody of the two boys.  The mother had hit the younger boy, and the father has this idea to make the damage to the boy’s face look a lot worse than it actually was, so he would get custody.  The younger son goes along with the father’s scheme. They “enhance” the marks on the boy’s face and take some pictures so it looks like the mother has really beat up on the younger son.  Child Protective Services rules in favor of the father, and soon he and his two boys are off to Albuquerque, New Mexico where they stay in a singles apartment complex.  The father is quite well off working as an independent contractor doing accounting jobs for small businesses.

However soon after they move into the apartment, the father locks himself in his bedroom, and the boys know he’s doing drugs in there.  Sometimes the father just stays in the bedroom for a week at a time, and the boys must fend for themselves.  Occasionally the father sends the boys out to do business with his drug dealers.

When the father does come out of his bedroom, he is subject to sudden violent mood swings.  Sometimes he feels guilty and vows he will be a better father, but other times he goes into a rage. At one point he threatens his older son with a knife, and from then on the two boys plot ways to escape from their abusive situation.  They make arrangements with their mother to go back to her, but that falls through when she decides to “reconcile” with their father.

This terrible family situation is taking place in Middle America, in Kansas, among the fairly well-to-do.  The novel is a case study in how drugs can tear a family apart.  However family dysfunction is not the only hazard these boys confront living in the singles complex.  In one scene the younger son wanders into an ‘adult’ party involving a man and two women out by the swimming pool.

‘One of the Boys’ paints a vivid first-hand picture of these boys’ desperate lives.  The boys undergo a harrowing plight, and there is no redemption.  I would have perhaps preferred to have an epilogue from this boy as an adult telling us what happened later and giving us readers some perspective on their appalling predicament.


Grade :    B+


4 responses to this post.

  1. Hmm, sounds very depressing. And for me, there needs to be more to a book than just telling a story of abuse.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Lisa,
      It is stronger than many abuse stories as it is in the 12 year old victim’s own perspective. I did feel the novel could have used some distancing from the situation to wrap things up.



  2. Sounds rather grim to read especially when you think that this is a situation that does happen even in so called advanced societies



    • Hi BookerTalk,
      I believe the story takes place around 1996 which I should have mentioned. It isn’t too remote from today. Somehow it is not a grim read despite its subject matter. The boys give the story energy while they work to escape.



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