It’s 1975. Lewis lives in abject poverty on the Tuscarora reservation in upstate New York. His favorite band, the Beatles, has broken up. He’s the only Indian in the class for smart kids. And he’s in middle school. Times are tough.
When George, a military kid, arrives, the two bond over their mutual appreciation of music. Lewis shares select pieces of his life with George. However, he struggles to avoid revealing the true nature of his life on the rez. Things deteriorate for Lewis when he catches the attention of a school bully who makes his life miserable. Forces of nature eventually compel Lewis to face everything: the bully, what he is hiding and his own shame. Lewis’ desire to move between cultures, and his difficulty doing so, will resonate with readers of many backgrounds. The action in this book builds slowly, providing readers with the context to understand the distrust that makes Lewis reluctant to fully commit to a friendship with George. Some readers may not be enthralled by the extensive exposition and sometimes-stilted dialogue, but those who stay with the story to the end will find their hearts touched by Lewis, George and their families.
Gansworth’s debut for young people is a worthy exploration of identity and friendship between middle school boys who live in different worlds. (discography) (Historical fiction. 11-14)