In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town... read more
Arnold Spirit is a young Native American boy who grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in poverty. He is a 14 year-old high school freshman who was born with a disability that could have prevented him from succeeding, but academically and athletically he excelled. On the first day of... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Arnold Spirit is a young Native American boy who grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in poverty. He is a 14 year-old high school freshman who was born with a disability that could have prevented him from succeeding, but academically and athletically he excelled. On the first day of Arnolds' freshmen year at Wellpinit High School, something life changing happened. He was in Geometry class, got his book and saw that his mother used this exact same book 30 years ago. He grew angry, threw the book at his teacher and was suspended. Later, Mr.P the teacher who he threw the book at, told Arnold that he needed to leave the Reserve and take his hope where others had hope too. He wants him to make something of himself and not be beaten down by the poverty and low standards that exist on the reservation.
This was a huge turning point for Arnold and he decided to transfer to Reardan High School, an all-white, off reservation high school. When he tells Rowdy, who is his best friend of his decision, Rowdy gets angry and disowns him like the rest of the community. When he arrives there he knows that he is the only Native American, besides the school mascot, and is all alone. Arnold experiences outright racism and ends up punching the school jock which gains their respect. This is a defining moment where Arnold realizes that there is a different set of rules at Reardan and he sets out to understand more of these rules, in order to be successful there. Arnold become a top athlete, scholar, and is considered popular among his fellow classmates, but only at the expense of the condemnation of his reservation community.
Throughout Arnolds’ life he suffers many losses. One night a couple of people were drunk driving and Arnolds’ Grandma is killed. Soon after, Arnolds’ fathers’ best friend and his sister die in alcohol-related incidents. These deaths bring about a significant realization for Arnold because he sees the negative effects that alcohol can have on people. At this point Arnold makes a promise to himself to never become an alcoholic. After Arnold finishes his freshmen year at Reardan, he and Rowdy are reunited. Arnold hopes that one day his tribe would also forgive him for leaving the reservation.
“When I was eight, nine, and ten, I slept in my bedroom closet with the door closed. I only stopped doing that because my big sister, Mary, told me that I was just trying to find my way back into my mother's womb. That ruined the whole closet thing.”
“God, this-kid was an eighty-year-old literature professor trapped in the body of a fifteen-year-old farm boy.”
“If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing.”
“You've been fighting since you were born. You fought off the brain surgery. You fought off those seizures. You fought off all the drunks and drug addicts. You kept your hope. And now, you have to take your hope and go somewhere where other people have hope.”
“I always knew that you were going to leave us behind and travel the world. I had a dream about you a few months ago. You were standing on the Great Wall of China. You looked happy. And I was happy for you.”
“No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor.”
“We didn't keep score.”
“'Grief (n.): When you feel so helpless and stupid that you think nothing will ever be right again, and your macaroni and cheese tastes like sawdust, and you can't even jerk off because it seems like too much trouble.'”
“There is nothing better than a chicken leg when you haven't eaten for (approximately) eighteen-and-a-half hours. And believe me, a good piece of chicken can make anybody believe in the existence of God.”
“I think chicken dancers are cool because, well, they dance like chickens. And you already know how much I love chicken.”
“Let me repeat that: MR. P SOMETIMES FORGETS TO COME TO SCHOOL! Yep, we have to send a kid down to teachers' housing compound behind the school to wake Mr. P, who is always conking out in front of his tv.”
“Come home, Dad. I am home. Misery is my home.”Junior to his dad.
The Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club
Why Chicken Means So Much To Me
Revenge Is My Middle Name
Because Geometry Is Not a Country Somewhere Near France
Hope Against Hope
Go Means Go
Rowdy Sings the Blues
How to Fight Monsters
Grandmother Gives Me Some Advice
Tears of a Clown
Slouching Towards Thanksgiving
My Sister sends Me an E-mail
Rowdy Gives Me Advice About Love
Dance, Dance, Dance
Don't Trust Your Computer
My Sister Sends Me a Letter
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree
Red Versus White
In Like a Lion
Rowdy and I Have a Long and Serious Discussion About Basketball
Because Russian Guys Are Not Always Geniuses
My Final Freshman Year Report Card
Talking About Turtles
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