I've seen this book over and over again and heard nothing but good things about it. And yet, the book has been frequently challenged. Well, whatever to that, book challenges only make me want to read the books more and it's never stopped me before.
One evening I purchased the book on my Kindle then went to bed. Waiting for the bus, I pulled my Kindle out and began to read, by the next morning I had finished the book.
I sped through it, unable to put it down, and let me tell you - I don't read on the bus because I worry about motion sickness yet I continued reading straight to work. I never got motion sickness, I just enjoyed the book and was that engrossed in it.
Our main character, Junior, is a teenager living on the Spokane Reservation. An artist who likes to express his feelings through his drawings, both portraits and comics, he describes himself as having water on the brain and having very few friends.
He's honest about the negative attributes of different family members which consist of his parents, grandmother and sister but it's still obvious he adores and loves them all. He has a best friend who... well, he isn't the best of best friends but Junior loves him none the less. This teenage boy, just starting High School, is emotional and honest as he makes mistakes and moves along during the school year. He's strong although he sees himself as weak and that strength is truly seen when he makes a decision that seems completely unexpected and daring to those he grew up around on the reservations.
Junior decides he is going to "leave" the reservation. Really he decides to go to a school that isn't within the reservation property but he isn't leaving the reservation completely, no, he still lives at home, he only attends school off "the rez." But with the way everyone reacts you would think that he had moved across the country. This adds to the strength of Junior as a character while he faces ridicule from his neighbors and former friends, the only people who remain by his side seem to be his family.
But adjusting to a new school where he sticks out like a sore thumb and the obvious dislike everyone has for him on the rez aren't the only things that Junior has to face during this year long account of his life. There are other things, more serious things, but even when dealing with tough subjects Alexie handles it with a splash of humor to lighten the tone. Yet, despite that, you never feel that Junior doesn't care about something nor that he makes the event less important. It's still serious and it still may hurt.
I'm not often one to display emotions when reading. I can absolutely love or hate a book but when reading my face remains blank as my mind is completely in the midst of everything. A handful of times I've cried from a book and even less have I openly laughed. This book, however, had me laughing. I was chuckling right along and when I finished the book I thought it was all too soon. I wanted to go back, I wanted to know more, I wanted to continue following Junior's life and find out what he achieved, if he and his best friend grew close again, what happened with his parents. I wanted all of that and I still do.
This is a short but fabulous book. Funny, emotional, and entertaining it will grab hold of you and you'll be done before you know it.