From School Library Journal
Gr 6-9–In 1970s upstate New York, Lewis Blake inhabits two separate universes: the reservation where he lives in poverty with his mother and uncle, and school, where the fact that he is American Indian (and his sardonic sense of humor) has made him an outcast and a victim of bullying. The seventh grader has begun to accept his status until a new kid shows up in his class. George Haddonfield grew up on air force bases around the world and doesn't seem to know or care about the divisions between the reservation kids and everyone else. Although Lewis and George bond over their shared love of the Beatles, George's friendly overtures to visit are constantly rebuffed by Lewis, who isn't sure if their tentative friendship will be able to withstand the jarring differences between George's home and his own. Can a love of rock and roll overcome all? Lewis's relationships with his mother, his uncle, and even his peers ring true and draw readers deep into his world. Life on the reservation is so vividly depicted that scenes set elsewhere, such as the air force base where George lives, feel a little flatly drawn in comparison. Nonetheless, the overall tenor and wry humor of this novel more than make up for its weaknesses.–Evelyn Khoo Schwartz, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DCα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Lewis Blake is bright and scrawny and the only kid from the Tuscarora Reservation tracked with the brainiacs at their county junior high in upstate New York. For the duration of sixth grade, he was invisible, but when burly, polite George Haddonfield arrives on the Air Force base and shows up in their seventh-grade class, Lewis might have found a friend. The boys bond over girls and music (the Beatles, Paul McCartney and Wings, and Queen—it is the 1970s, after all), slowly letting their guards down, but when a vicious, well-connected bully sets his sights on Lewis, their friendship is sorely tested. Gansworth, himself an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation, explores the boys’ organic relationship with generosity and tenderness and unflinching clarity, sidestepping stereotypes to offer two genuine characters navigating the unlikely intersection of two fully realized worlds. All of the supporting characters, especially the adults—from Lewis’ beleaguered mother and iconoclastic uncle to George’s upright father and delicate German mother, and a host of teachers and administrators who look right past the daily violence perpetrated on Lewis—are carefully, beautifully drawn. And although Gansworth manages the weighty themes of racism and poverty with nuance and finesse, at its heart, this is a rare and freehearted portrait of true friendship. Grades 7-10. --Thom Barthelmess