Arnold Spirit (known as Junior at home) is a 14-year-old Spokane Indian. He was born with water on the brain, is regularly picked on by his peers, and loves to draw pictures. He refers to the world as a series of broken dams and floods and his pictures are tiny lifeboats. He loves basketball, and is fairly good on the Spokane Team. He decided if he stays in the reservation all his life he is never going to go anywhere just like his parents. They too had dreams once of being something more. He requests that they let him go to the rich white school in Reardan which is 20 minutes away. His parents agree. This destroys his friendship with his best friend Rowdy, who has always been this crazy Native American kid who will beat up anyone who looks at him twice. This once meant Rowdy was a source of protection to Junior, and now includes Junior in the beating category.
What happens when Arnold (known as Arnold when he switches schools) is that he once again finds himself the blunt of jokes and discrimination. He stays at his new school, determined to make it work, even sometimes having to walk the twenty minutes to and from when his dad does not have enough money for gas in the car. Eventually he makes a few friends along the way, and is able to find a happy medium between his life on the reservation and his school that is not.
Confession time. I picked this book up as part of Banned Books Week. It came to my library late but I still wanted to read it. After I brought it home with several others I looked up why it was banned. On line it said that is was banned for talk of masturbation, racism, and vulgar language. I almost returned it to the library unread. It was honestly, the first of all the banned books that I read this past couple of weeks that I can say I questioned if I wanted to read it or not. I don’t condone banning, not in the least, but I do believe in our rights to choose to read a book or not.
However, I listed this book on a post about the books I had received at my library and I started receiving comments from people who had read this book saying what an amazing read it was, some even calling it a favorite. A few others who hadn’t read it said that they had been wanting too. To all of these people, I say thank you. If not for you, I may have missed out on an incredible reading experience.
So I was cautiously optimistic when I opened up the book, still reserving the right to put it down at any time. (Oh the conversations I have with myself sometimes… :razz:)
I didn’t put it down.
The parts that I felt may have been unnecessary were so small. They did not take away from the book. I read this story told from a 14-year-old boys perspective and I have to say I really enjoyed the incredible insight he brought into race, stereo types, and color.
The pictures throughout the book are so important to the story line and really give Arnold’s story a life. The pictures add to what he is feeling, be it happiness, confusion, anger, or pain. You can see it all, and for me, I could feel it as well.
As Arnold shares his story I was reminded again how strong prejudices can be when people see through eyes of judgment. What I also seen was that the power of friendship and acceptance has a much stronger presence and hold.
While I would not say hand this book to your young child, I do think it is an important read for older YA and holds within its pages an amazing read that I will not soon forget.
I picked up this book from my local library
I would however, love to own this read.