Arnold Spirit is well named because he is a bright boy with amazing resilience. Despite facing physical handicaps (as a result of his birth), despite being a regular target of bullies, despite the drawbacks of growing up on an Indian reservation (where drunkenness thrives and ambition seems to die) Arnold is determined to face life head on; even if this means leaving his comfort zone and his best friend to attend a white school 20 km from home.
At the heart of this story is how a young teenager learns to cope with being different; how he develops a hard core of inner strength to help him cope with the loss of friends and beloved family members. How he learns to make new friends and how he (and those around him) begin to develop a measure of tolerance and understanding.
Arnold is often a humorous narrator. Combined with the sketches he scatters throughout the book, this makes the story quite accessible even for students who may not be keen readers. Whilst the story may focus on a Native American Indian, it should nevertheless resonate with Australian students. It has also won several, well deserved awards.
Highly Recommended (dma) *****