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Arnold Spirit Jr., known as Junior, is having one heck of a life. He was born 14 years ago with hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and a mouth that eventually grew 10 more teeth than the norm. As a result of his brain problems and the surgery that he had at 6 months of age to correct them, he has serious vision problems, a huge head, seizures, a stutter, and a lisp. His family is dirt poor, his father is an alcoholic, .

But he is also a budding cartoonist, a Spokane Indian, a passionate, loving soul, and despite everything, an optimist.

In a whirlwind chain of events that starts when he realizes that his geometry text is 30 years old, loses his temper, and throws the book across the room, Junior enrolls the previously all-white high school in the town 22 miles away, loses and makes friends, becomes a basketball star, lands in the hospital, and experiences tragedy after tragedy among those he loves. And he still hangs onto his hopes through it all.

It sounds as though this should be a tragic, touching book - and it is. But it is also hilariously funny. It's illustrated throughout with drawings by Ellen Forney, which represent Junior's cartoons and drawings and add to the the book's charm and wit.

(Read more ... with spoilers!)

I liked this a lot: after I finished it, I went back and read all my favorite bits, and then started the whole book over again.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 16th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
Yay! If you liked his voice here, than I think you'll find bits to like in all of his other works, even the darker/sadder stories that may not click with you as strongly overall.

Speaking of which, it might be interesting to read Flight now, as something of a flipside -- that one I think is shelved as adult due to a great deal of violence and profanity, but it almost feels like a very, very dark YA to me because it's a rather slim, fast-paced book with another vividly drawn teen-boy protagonist -- but Zits has much bigger problems and much less support than Junior, and everything's going to hell, leading to a sort of Quantum Leap SF-ish premise where he begins sliding through all of these alternate lives. I don't think you might love it the way you did Diary, it can be rather bleak and harrowing in places, but if you can stick with it the ending is incredibly moving.

(And you DEFINITELY need to watch Smoke Signals now as soon as we can figure out a good time for me to march on over with the DVD! *grin*)
Feb. 22nd, 2009 05:50 am (UTC)
(Alexie and more)

I'll have to check out those books later! I already have my next 50books_POC choices lined up: two YAs (Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley and Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu) and Julia Alavrez' In the Time of the Butterflies. I finally finished the Chabon, so I need to write that up.

Edited at 2009-02-22 05:50 am (UTC)
Feb. 22nd, 2009 07:57 am (UTC)
Re: (Alexie and more)
Oooh, I'd love to borrow Zahrah when you're done, that's one I've been meaning to check out...
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:22 am (UTC)
Re: (Alexie and more)

I'll be starting that next ... I finished the Chen Headley already (mixed bag, probably because I am not now nor have I ever been a typical 16 year old).

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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