A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
"The Best Kids Books Are Written in Blood" wrote Sherman Alexie in a 2011 WSJ post about how trying to protect children from the harsh realities of life is pointless.
This YA novel dances and laughs in the shadows and with ghosts of poverty, loneliness, abuse, alcoholism, depression, racism, etc.. Alexie does his redemptive dance with tears that both salve and baptize the reader. His voice is real. His pain is authentic. His narrator IS hope. This is a book that is built to confront difficult issues, to pour salt and sunshine on wounds that refuse to heal. I don't know how someone can read Alexie and not walk away lifted up.
I also think he narrates the HELL out of this book. I can't imagine anyone else giving this book the same kind of heart and soul. Listening to Alexie read his book was amazing. I kept having to remind myself that Alexie was not Arnold. Sometimes I've wondered if authors would be better off letting pros read their work, but Alexie absolutely demolished that bias.