Written by: Sherman Alexie
Number of Pages: 230
Average Rating: 4.11/5 stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Published: September 12, 2007
Read in September 2017
Summary According to Goodreads
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the store of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
This is a novel I have been looking at for a while, and one that has come so incredibly hyped both online and in-person. I went into it not really knowing what it was about, and I think that made it more fun to read through. It is a young adult contemporary mixed with realistic fiction, depicting the life of an Indian boy taking his life in his own hands. It’s told from a teenage boys perspective so naturally there is a bigger focus on girls, sports, and “looking cool”, but there was also some deeper plot lines following family and education.
I appreciated that it wasn’t exactly told in a diary format, but instead was written in short chapters and used a voice that was casual enough to be diary-like. Some of the plot points were dramatic, but being told from a young perspective, you have to remember that they generally make everything seem “over the top”. I felt as though all of the reactions were warranted to what was happening in the story, and that it was overall well-rounded.
There was some character growth which I expected, nothing major but enough to show that changing schools was having an impact on how he viewed life. It was difficult to remember that he is only 14 years-old, because some of the mannerisms were a bit older. This is a child who watched his family suffer financially, his friends suffer mentally, and his community suffer from alcohol addiction but was able to know that wasn’t the life he wanted for himself. As the title suggests he did go through a complex deciding where he fit on the spectrum, and I think that made it very relatable to readers. Even if we all don’t go through something like this from a race perspective, it could be sexuality, religious beliefs, or even something as small as moral beliefs.
The little cartoons were such a fun addition to the story, and each was relatable into what was going on in the story. I can’t think of why I didn’t give it a full five-stars, but just some part of me knows it wasn’t perfect. There isn’t anything specifically I can put my finger on, I think just an overall feeling that there was room for growth.
Overall, I did really enjoy this novel. It was a fun, quick read that also spotlights a diverse minority, and gives the reader some things to think about. It was not the best piece of literature I’ve ever read, but I don’t believe it was supposed to be heavy in either the writing style, tone, or topic. It is a young adult novel that conveys the important messages, and is an interesting read.
“The world is only broken into two tribes: The people who are assholes and the people who are not."