SHERMAN ALEXIE-SHELLEY SMITH
The protagonist of this novel is Arnold Sprit Jr. and the novel begins with him explaining the fact that he was born with an brain damage he calls, water in the skull, it resulted that Arnold had surgery but left with many physical problems. Some of these problems are that he has forty-two teeth, is skinny, and has an over-sized head, hands, and feet. He also suffers from poor eyesight, experiences frequent seizures, stutters, and has a lisp. People often bully Arnold because of these problems, Arnold is regularly beaten up and given such nicknames as "retard" because of the brain damage and "globe" because of his large head. His family is poor, so poor they had to shoot their adopted dog, Oscar in their own backyard for he was suffering from the intense heat exhaustion, instead of paying the expences.
Arnold's life on the reservation is brightened by his friend Rowdy, described by Arnold as being "the toughest kid on the rez". Rowdy's father abuses him and his mother, thus they are constantly and noticeably covered in bruises. Despite the hardships that he experiences and his cold, tough attitude, Rowdy stays true to his friend Arnold and tries to protect him from some of the physical abuse he is dealt. On Arnold's first day of high school, his geometry teacher, Mr. P, hands out textbooks to the students and Arnold realizes that his book has his mother's maiden name written in it. She was thirty years old when she gave birth to Arnold, thus making the textbook at least forty years older than Arnold himself. Arnold is angered and saddened by the fact that the Spokane reservation is so poor that it is unable to afford new textbooks for its high school. Because of this, Arnold violently throws the book, which ends up colliding with Mr. P's face and breaking his nose. The school subsequently suspends Arnold. During Arnold's suspension, Mr. P meets with Arnold to reveal to him his sister's dream to be a romance writer, he is not angry with him, and that "You [Arnold] have to leave this reservation".
A week into the school year, Arnold transfers to Reardan High School, a school full of rich white kids in the countryside. Arnold is the only Indian at Reardan besides the team mascot. Although Arnold's mother is an ex-drunk, his father a drunk, and they are poor, they still allow him to transfer to Reardan. Despite his initial troubles adjusting to the new school, Arnold begins to enjoy Reardan, developing a crush on a white girl, Penelope, and making friends with a student named Gordy.