Arnold “Junior” Spirit doesn’t exactly have an easy time of it. Born poor and hydrocephalic, it’s pretty much a miracle that he survived infancy. Suffering from stuttering, his over-large head, bad eyesight and frequent seizures, he’s routinely picked on by both children and adults on the Spokane reservation, finding solace in basketball, his drawing and his best friend Rowdy.
When Junior transfers away from the school on the reservation to get a chance at a real education, Rowdy feels deeply betrayed, like Junior’s sold out his heritage and he loses the only friend he’s ever had. If he thought he was an outcast on the reservation, being the only Native American in an all white high school, 22 miles from where he lives, Junior is in for a rude awakening. Stubborn and fiercely intelligent, he’s still determined to prove to everyone that he can make it, without giving up his Native American roots in the process.
This book slayed me, as they say. I was a blubbering wreck from the second chapter, when Junior explains to the reader that the worst thing about being poor is that when your beloved dog, a stray mutt, gets sick and needs medical attention, there is absolutely nothing that can be done. Because I listened to this in audiobook, I was straight up sobbing on my way to the grocery store, which is really quite embarrassing. This book, which straight up broke my heart a little, also made me laugh a lot, so it’s really not a complete sob-fest. Full review here.