Okay, so I’m a year late in jumping on the bandwagon of reviewing this book. It’s won zillions of awards, and gained thrilling praise from all sides. If anything, that’s why it took me so long to read it. Call me cynical, but it seems like any time a YA book starts getting all sorts of attention from readers who usually stick to adult fiction, it makes me worry a bit. And if I were a teen reader, it would make me worry a lot.
But rest assured: for once the book lives up to all of its praise. Not only is it a great work of literary accomplishment, it’s also legitimately funny. Yes, it won a National Book Award, and that usually means depressing and thoughtful, but this time around the award committee got it right. They managed to find a book that was depressing, thoughtful, and funny. Yes, that’s right! It’s a book that is both depressing and hilarious. No, I’m not sure how author Sherman Alexie managed to pull that off.
I would highly recommend this book to any teen who walked through the library doors. It’s got everything: touching relationships, sports action, even cartoons! And did I mention it was funny? I want to stress the funny part, because otherwise this book does not sound like a lot of fun to read. Racism, death, poverty, more death. Not exactly the ingredients for a good time. And there is much in the book that is extremely serious, such as dealing with grief. Rarely do we find a book that is capable of making a person’s emotional pain as vivid and real as it is here, while at the same time able to keep the book from becoming bogged down in depression and angst. There is no angst here, only reality. And humor. Lots and lots of humor.