Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Brothers Torres

The Brothers Torres
by Coert Voorhees

About the book:
Frankie Towers has always looked up to his older brother, Steve. And with good reason—Steve is a popular senior who gets whatever he wants: girls, a soccer scholarship, and—lately—street cred. Frankie, on the other hand, spends his time shooting of fireworks with is best friend, Zach, working at his parents’ restaurant, and obsessing about his crush, Rebecca Sanchez.
Although Frankie has some reservations, he doesn’t spend much time thinking about Steve’s crusade to win the respect of the local cholos. Then Frankie gets into a fight with John Dalton—longtime nemesis of Steve’s and the richest, preppiest kid in their New Mexican high school. After the fight, Steve takes Frankie under his wing, and Frankie’s social currency begins to rise. The cholos who used to ignore him start to recognize him; he even lands a date to homecoming with Rebecca.
But after another incident with Dalton, Steve is bent on retaliating. Frankie starts to think that his brother may be taking this respect thing too far. Soon he’ll have to make a choice between respecting his brother and respecting himself.
In an honest and humorous debut novel, Coert Vorhees examines what it means for a young man to come of age.

About the author:
Coert Vorgees was born in New Mexico, where he developed a weakness for Hatch green chile. A former Fulbright Scholar, he is currently pursuing an MFA in fiction at the University of Houston. This is his first novel.

Who has the most influence over you as a person?  Are there people you listen to even when it is against your best judgment? How do we abdicate power to these people?

Discussion guide:

  1. Describe Frankie’s first attempt at asking Rebecca Sanchez to homecoming. What does it reveal about him as a person? Where does he fit in the social pyramid of his high school? Is it a similar pyramid to your own school? Why?
  2. Describe Frankie and Zach’s friendship. Frankie says they are close enough to hammer each other with the most offensive racial slurs. Why do guys do this? How does their friendship change over the course of the novel? Are all friendships tested?
  3. Why does Steve seem to have so many more privileges with no responsibilities compared to Frankie? How would you feel if you were Frankie? Do parents always treat siblings differently?
  4. Have you, like Frankie, ever felt the cold slap of rejection? How did he handle it? Do you think Rebecca actually likes him or not? Why? How do you know if someone is interested so you don’t make a complete fool of yourself?
  5. Describe the fight at the first mesa party Frankie attends. How is this a shift from how he’s been included in the social scene before? Does it give him an earned or false sense of confidence? In high school what is confidence based on?
  6. Discuss the cause and effects of the beating that Frankie takes after school. What precipitated this violence? What events spiral out from this one event? How common is violence between teens in your own school and community? How do his parents react?
  7. Despite the beating, Frankie manages to score a date with Rebecca. Would you pursue her with Dalton in the wings?   Describe what happens on their first date. Why does Frankie “want a poster of this moment hanging up in my room” (p. 164)  What happens with Rebecca?
  8. How is Steve navigating a world beyond that of high school? Is he smart to ally himself with these guys who have such tough, though deserved, reputations? Would you feel safe with them or not?
  9. How has Frankie’s relationship with his brother changed since his freshman year? Why do you think his brother has started to include him in his social circle? How do some siblings become friends and confidantes to one another while others distance themselves? Why does Frankie want to impress his brother so much?
  10.  Compare Carmenita (Steve’s girl) to Rebecca Sanchez. How do the boys’ parents react to these different girls? How is it that girls still suffer from bad reputations for doing the same things that boys get congratulated for? Is it fair? Do you think it will ever change?
  11. How do Frankie and Rebecca view the Dalton’s business from vastly different angles? Have the Dalton’s taken advantage of the Sanchez legacy or merely profited off of sound business practices? Who do you think is right? Why?
  12.  What surprise does Frankie face about the family’s restaurant business? Would you want your parents to sell out to the Daltons or not? How do you think Frankie’s parents would react if they knew it was the Dalton’s son who was to blame for Frankie’s beating?
  13. How do the brothers decide to get back at the Daltons? During the entire process how does Frankie feel at each step? Why does he feel powerless to stand up to Steve? What do both of them have at stake? Why does Steve seem so cavalier with his scholarship and athletics? Besides Rebecca, what could Frankie lose?
  14. On the night of homecoming Frankie finally confronts his father about the injustices between himself and Steve in the family. What precipitated this discussion? Is it long overdue? Why do you think Frankie was silent for so long? Do you think the Towers parents are to blame for Steve’s behavior or not? Is it fair to let one child pursue excellence while another is left with even more responsibility?
  15.  Describe the homecoming dance for Frankie and Rebecca. How is it even better, in many ways, than he could’ve hoped for? What unexpected act of kindness floors him? Have you ever been the recipient or the creator of such a moment?
  16.  Explain why Frankie finally takes a stand with Steve in the parking lot at the dance. Is he right to spare Dalton? What would’ve been the long-term consequences if Frankie had not stepped in? How does it have unexpected consequences?
  17.  Why does Flaco turn on Steve? Do you think Steve did not understand the cruelty of the people he was trying to impress? How are none of them really innocent? Predict what you think the future holds for Steve, Dalton and Frankie.
  18.  How do race and class reveal themselves throughout the novel? Is most of the violence a symptom of these issues or is it unrelated? Defend your stance.
  19.  How has the relationship between the Towers brothers changed over the course of the novel? What does the time capsule represent? Do you think the events in the novel will ultimately bring them closer or not? Why?
  20. Which scene in the novel is your favorite? Why? What can you learn as a writer from studying this scene? Five years from now what will stick with you from the Towers brothers’ story?