This book is about Arnold “Junior” Spirit, who grows up on the Spokane
Indian Reservation in Washington State. After an incident in school where he
realizes his school is using the same books in his class as his mother used 30
years earlier, he is told by his teacher he should go to the white school in
town. He decides he has to get out and he goes to the white school, where the
only other Indian is the mascot. He becomes this person in between, who doesn’t
belong in either world. In the school he’s different, and not white, on the rez
he only has his family to talk to, because the rest of the rez are angry that he
I really liked it. It’s so sweet and beautiful.
I think that if I had been younger, like a teenager, I’d have loved it
more, because I would have connected a bit more with the narrator, Junior. He
is very young, his voice is very young. I really like him, but how he talks is
very young and sort of juvenile at times, but I love Junior.
Alexie has a great style though, and he’s just, so amazing. He just sort
of strings you along this sweet, simple story and then pounds your heart with
something brutal and profound and beautiful and sad.
I obviously have no clue if this is how Native Americans actually live,
but I would assume it’s fairly close to real life, since Alexie is a Native
American man himself. There is so much heartbreak in this book, and it’s so
tough and there’s so much hardship, and Junior just takes it as matter of
course, which feels even more heart breaking.
I love Junior’s persistence. He goes to a school where he is pretty much
the only person of colour. He struggles with getting friends, and with fitting
in, and he struggles with how different the culture is, which I really like. I
get excited about culture difference, which I know is weird, but I studied
anthropology in university, this is my thing. Let’s move on. Even if he
struggles making friends, he keeps going. Even if he loses friends at the rez,
he keeps going to school and keeps being a badass. Even if he’s 14, and
scrawny, and not the best, he keeps playing basketball to get better. Even
though he loses family members left right and centre he keeps moving forward.
Even though he’s from a dirt-poor family who can’t always afford to drive him
to school he keeps going. He walks the hours back and forth, he will not be
stopped. He’s amazing.
I loved learning a bit about how Native Americans are treated, and how
they live, and how rough it can be to be Native American. It’s interesting, and
it’s such a different experience from my life. Countries seem to generally have
a pretty terrible history with their indigenous populations, and it’s
interesting to see how it affects people today, and I find that fascinating.
I’m a weirdo.
I also love immigrant stories, because they’re about people trapped
between two worlds. I realize Junior isn’t an immigrant, but he seems to have a
bit of the same experience as a lot of immigrants. He doesn’t fit in with white
people, and he doesn’t really fit in with the Natives anymore. So he becomes
this person between two worlds, which I also really like. I like those stories.
Again, I like weird things. People not fitting in, that’s the stuff.
I really liked it. It’s so sweet and beautiful and Alexie is a badass.