The Compulsive Reader: The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees

Yesterday, Coert Voorhees' debut novel, The Brothers Torres came out in paperback! I read this book last year, and it's a great coming-of-age story with an engaging male main character with lots of cultural diversity. Please check it out!

Frankie and his brother Steve are very different. While unpopular Frankie spends his time playing with explosives with his best friend, working at his parents' restaurant, and dreaming about Rebecca Sanchez, Steve is the widely respected soccer star with a scholarship and the perfect social standing.

But then John Dalton, son of the man who practically owns their little New Mexican town, picks a fight with the brothers, and Steve is bent on retaliation, especially when John starts fights with Frankie when he's alone and outnumbered. As things escalate and Steve begins to take more and more risks all in the name of respect, Frankie will come to realize that garnering respect and doing the right thing don't always go hand in hand.

The Brothers Torres is an unassuming novel that carries a powerful message within its pages. This unlikely coming of age story is punctuated by the rich Hispanic culture and influence and its pages are scattered with Spanish words and phrases that give it a completely authentic and genuine feel. All at once serious and humorous, poignant and full of everyday occurrences, this book speaks volumes about what it is like growing up in today’s society, with the urges to do what is right and the expectation of acting tough. Voorhees gives his characters a larger than life feel and wields control of his plot with great skill. His wholly unique and entirely relatable cast of characters and clock of situations make him an author to watch.

And Coert was kind enough to answer three questions for us:

What inspired Frankie and Steve's story?

Their story started out with the character of Frankie playing with fireworks in Zach's backyard. I tried to figure out what kind of pressures Frankie might be under from his various role models, and that's where Steve and the cholos came in - kind of a direct opposite to the pressures his dad was putting on him. From there, it was a matter of putting those two different pressures into conflict and seeing how Frankie dealt with it. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that every young person is at some point (more likely, at many points) confronted with decisions about what kind of person he wants to be.

What do you want readers to get out of The Brothers Torres?

Ideally, I'd like readers to have a good time. That's the most important thing. After that, I hope the book challenges people to think about who their influences are, maybe makes them think about how the events in Frankie's life might relate to their own. I'd also like people to get a taste of New Mexican culture and food, something I miss like crazy now that I don't live there anymore.

What are you working on now?

I just finished a draft of a new novel, called The Artist for now, which is pretty different from The Brothers Torres. It takes place in California, at a hard core prep school near Stanford University. It's kind of a thriller/mystery that combines elements of satire. I used to be a high school teacher, so the whole environment of hyper-driven students, college stress, over-involved parents, and rankings-obsessed administration is something I was interested in. I'm psyched to see how it turns out - I had a great time writing it.

Thanks so much, Coert!

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