This award winning novel is told from the viewpoint of Arnold Spirit (Junior) a teenage cartoonist who lives on the Spokane Reservation, the rez. Arnold has a couple of strikes against him: he was born with "water on the brain", has seizures and oversize hands and feet. Against the wishes of his best friend, and the Indian community, Arnold decides to leave the local high school and head to the rich white high school Reardan. His tale is illustrated with his cartoons.
Does this sound like a funny book? Well, Sherman Alexi's character is funny! The voice of the 14 year old is realistic and the content is spot on for this age group. But this is tempered with the racist prejudice that Arnold faces, and the very real problems of the rez- alcoholism, poverty, hunger, loss of cultural identity and so on. Overall though, this is a book with heart, and I can see both boys and girls enjoying reading about such an unfamiliar world. The friendship between Arnold and Randy is lovely and real.
Overall, I think this would be a great book for thirteen year olds. And in Australia, it could lead to discussion about our treatment of and attitudes towards our Aboriginal people.
It looks like a wild and windy night, perfect for cuddling up with a book :)