This chapter starts off with a violent disconnect--in one sentence, Junior reports that he gave Penelope a valentine and that Eugene, his dad's best friend, was shot in the face. It's a dichotomy that reflects the chaos of Junior's world. In the next sentence we learn that Eugene died. Two pages later there's another death--Bobby's suicide in jail. That makes three, with Junior's grandmother being the first. And now Junior shows readers how he survives the grief. His resources are his community of friends, who walk out when his teacher judges him unsympathetically, and his own creative spirit. When he decided to list the things in his life that give him joy, or gave him joy, he not only reveals his internal strength, but he shows readers a way of dealing with their own loss and grief: focus on the joy. It's a gift that Alexie gives his readers, through his character.
Story Sleuths' Tip #16: Share wisdom with your readers--offer them new strategies for learning from challenges in their own lives.
Over to you, Allyson.