Life on the reserve is plagued by alcoholism, and a legacy of cultural destruction. Alcohol plays a large role in Junior’s life. Junior’s dad is an alcoholic, and a series of alcohol induced events shake Junior’s world.
Junior is deeply disappointed by the schooling provided on the reserve, and make his thoughts know to his teacher, who encourages Junior to leave the reserve and transfer schools. Junior leaves the reserve, and attends Rearden High School, a predominantly white High school where Junior, who goes by Arnold at his new school, couldn’t be more of a black sheep.
At first Arnold is an outcast at Rearden and is then outcasted from the reserve too, his community and best friend take it personally when he decides to leave. Slowly Arnold builds steam at his new school, he stands up to his bully, becomes a pseudo-boyfirned to the girl he likes, does well in his classes, joins the basketball team and beats his frenemy Rowdy.
A series of alcohol related events deflate Junior. They are devastating to say the least. They play a sort of grounding role and by the end of the book Junior makes up with his former best friend Rowdy.
I also watched an interview with the author, Sherman Alexie. He was a very interesting guy, and spoke from a perspective that I am not familiar with. He spoke about writing and art, mental illness and alcohol abuse and the state of native culture today.
I always appreciate hearing new perspectives and from people who experience life different than I. I feel it can be grounding and humbling that our world is so broad.