It is the story of Junior, a skinny kid with glasses, with a best friend who is the toughest boy in school, and that saves him, sometimes, from getting beaten up. Junior grows up on a reservation, goes to a reservation school where the expectations are very low, his parents struggle with money, alcohol, keeping traditions alive and the sad fact that history repeats over and over for everyone on the reservation. He has a sister who never comes out of her room.
Junior makes the decision to go to the rich white school in the next town, after a teacher tells him he is clever, and this causes all manner of problems for him. Firstly his best friend rejects him, he doesn't fit in at the new school, and he walks miles and miles to and from school each day because rides are unreliable. He falls for the most pretty and popular girl around and searches for things that will make him fit in, when he has no money for the cool stuff, and knows nobody.
In this book you will come to know Junior very well, you will feel the pain when people he loves die - and this happens a lot. It does sound very grim, but this book is not a story that will grind you down. Highly recommended for everyone year 10 and above.
It would work beautifully for Wide Reading at Level 1!