The story of Arnold Spirit is lively, humourous and heartbreaking all at the same time.
Using Arnold's voice the story begins gently, unfolding in a deceptively uncomplicated way, giving the reader a teasing peek into the lives of the people who live on 'The Rez' before following Arnold out into the world to meet main-stream America in a middle-class white high school. Stepping in and out of these two widely diverse worlds, Arnold meets the challenges of adolecence, class, race and opportunity given or withheld, with humour, courage and grace.
Much like Frank McCourt illustrated the abject proverty of Ireland that surrounded his young self in Angela's Ashes by using accurate but not-yet-understood dialiogue and exposition, Sherman Alexis uses Arnold's young mind and voice to build for the reader a rich understanding of the North American Indian experience in modern America. Unlike Angela's Ashes, however, Arnold's story is one of hope.
Through Arnold's adolecent eyes author Sherman Alexie begins the layering of character and culture. Arnold may be small and different, but he's no wimp. He's funny and brave - a teenage philosopher. Arnold is always a surprise, whether it's dealing with his best friend or the school jock: the most popular girl: alcoholism on the Rez: the classroom nerd: the school dance: his absent sister: the basketball team.
As Arnold traverses the hallways of high school and the backroads of the Rez, we're begin a better understanding of Native American culture in modern America.
I loved this book, and highly recommend it.
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