I had heard so much about this book that I’ve really been looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t connect with it. I understand that it’s semi-autobiographical, so it must be an accurate portrayal of a 14-year-old boy’s thoughts and concerns. And teenage boys are a little bit gross. So maybe that’s why I was a bit put off by it – the MC’s relationships with and reactions to the female characters are definitely off-putting, no matter how realistic, and the humor, while perhaps accurate to the 14-year-old protagonist, is also juvenile. But the story itself is both funny and sad, that of a boy living on the “rez” and dealing with the fallout of asking to transfer to a town school where he will be the only non-white student. The book doesn’t pull punches in portraying alcoholism, violence, bullying, tribalism, and racism. It’s a lot to pack into a relatively short book. But the ending contains a redeeming message of hope, too, which helps to rescue a story that threatens to sink under the weight of these heavy themes.
Hardcover version. I read this book for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 11: December 21st-22nd. Soyal (December 21st) is the winter solstice ceremony of the Zuni and the Hopi (Hopitu Shinumu), The Peaceful Ones, also known as the Hopi Indians. It is held on the shortest day of the year to ceremonially bring the sun back from its long winter slumber. Book themes for Soyal: Read a book set in the American Southwest / the Four Corners States (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), –OR– a book that has a Native American protagonist. This book fits the square, as the main character is Native American.