As the stars indicate I really liked this book. I happily read it all the way through. So far, I have always happily read Alexie. He has a gift for delving hopefully into painful and sometimes brutal realities, usually from places seldom experienced in American novels even though they are Native American places.
But when finished I found myself thinking the book could have been better. The exuberance of the narrative voice was compelling and engaging, and Arnie, the narrator, has such heart. But the exuberance could have been tempered. It slighted nuances that would have given the story more substance and made it a more satisfying read.
Yes, Arnie is a teenage boy. I appreciated his often crass take on life and the basketball mania and the crazed emotions and the boner humor. I thought the mix of journaling and cartoons was ideal for telling the story. But The Grapes of Wrath is Arnie's favorite book! And he risked everything to transfer to a new and intimidating school for the sake of his education. The exuberance of basketball and boners slighted other enthusiasms that would have made the transfer and Arnie's book list and his aspirations more real.