by Sherman Alexie (Art by Ellen Forney)
Arnold “Junior” Spirit is a typical 14-year-old: awkward, confused, and conflicted by everything. Additionally, he has certain health issues which have made him the target of bullies all across the reservation.
Arnold is also special and smart and a budding cartoonist. When he decides to attend high school in a small town outside of the rez, his latest adventure begins. He is rejected by the Indians on the rez because he is perceived to be a traitor. He is rejected by the students at Reardan High because he is different.
As he gradually achieves acceptance at his new school, Arnold’s confidence grows dramatically. All of a sudden, he can do anything, even start for the varsity basketball team.
Full of triumphs and tears, this novel is a fun and real look at the lives of young adults on the rez. Alexie examines the need to leave the rez, and what motivates this need: the pervasive alcoholism and the painful poverty. I laughed, I cried, and I loved the illustrations.
Really good reading!