I’d never heard of this, strangely, as it now appears it’s super-famous and a National Book Award Winner. Quite justifiably, as it happens.
This is a terrific book. A story of growing up on the res – and getting out – the darkness of the underlying themes and lives portrayed is sweetened just enough by a thick layering of humour, the kind of humour that’s witty and real and comes from inside unbearable situations and struggling people.
It’s interesting to read some of the reviews on Goodreads, and a bit depressing: the numbers of Americans who express astonishment at the reality of Indian’s lives – and the flip side, the number who primly think the references to masturbation, alcoholism and strong language mean it’s unfit for teenage consumption.
There is only one fault with this novel: it substitutes frick for fuck, when we all know what the characters would really be saying. Even teens will know, unless they’re halfwits. And the nod to pseudo-morality didn’t work anyway, it’s still on the banned list (which, honestly, I was absolutely astonished by).
This is a book people need to read. It portrays truths which are apparently still invisible to many in American culture, but without hate or blame. It’s a story of racism, and cruelty, and disadvantage, but most of all a story of love and humanity and ultimately a wounded kind of triumph.