From Goodreads: With his first foray into teen literature, acclaimed author Sherman Alexie packs a punch in this absorbing novel about a Native American boy searching for a brighter future. At once humorous and stirring, Alexie’s novel follows Junior, a resident of the Spokane reservation who transfers out of the reservation’s school — and into a nearby rich, all-white farm school — in order to nurture his desire to become a cartoonist. Junior encounters resistance there, a backlash at home, and numerous family problems — all the while relaying his thoughts and feelings via amusing descriptions and drawings. Having already garnered a National Book Award for Young Adult Literature, this moving look at race and growing up is definitely one to pick up.
Why it’s my type: Let me count the ways. . . . Well, really there are too many to do that. So I’ll mention my favorites. ART. Have I mentioned I love it? I love it. I am envious of those who are paid to do it. And mostly their talent. In this case I was jealous of both Junior and the illustrator, Ellen Forney. Forney’s cartoons accompany Junior’s story in the best kind of way: that is, in a way that adds to and doesn’t just repeat what’s already been said.
This book accomplishes the hardly possible: being a funny tearjerker. It talks about terrible things in a real, non-euphemistic way, like the real things they are.
Junior is a believable boy. I’ve been trying to consciously pick up a boy book here and there, since I usually gravitate toward female narration, princesses, womanly warriors and all that, as I’ve mentioned before. And this book confirmed that that is a very noble new pursuit. Even though I am neither boy nor Native American, I found myself relating to Junior anyway. Because he felt so real.
It’s just the kind of story that will stick with me always. I read it in two sittings, in a day. That doesn’t happen often for me. By the turn of the last page, I felt both entertained and like I’d learned something deeply important. Both things I look for in a good book.
Memorable bit(s): “He smiled mysteriously. Adults are so good at smiling mysteriously. Do they go to college for that?”
“‘I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,’ I said. By black and white. By Indian and white. But I know that isn’t true. The world is only broken into two tribes: The people who are a**holes and the people who are not.'”
Recommendation: I’m having trouble thinking of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this.
Published: September 2007 by Little, Brown Young Readers.