There are several literary devices used in the book. One of the most notable is the use of slang. The book is written in a tough, short style, as Rusty-James would speak but without any curse words. It seems somewhat unbelievable that the characters in the book would not curse, but at the time Hinton could not depict their talk realistically and have the book published for a young-adult audience. Oh, how things have changed! Instead, she implies cursing, as when Rusty-James says, "I said something to her I wouldn't normally say to a chick, but she really got on my nerves. She didn't flinch."
It's also written from a first-person point of view, which does several things for the narration. It allows the reader to see events as Rusty-James sees them, which can lead to questions about reliability. In particular, it's not clear whether his suspicions of some adults are correct or not. Although it's clear that both Coach Ryan and Cassandra have problems and motives of their own, readers may wonder whether they're as bad, or as selfish or phony, as Rusty-James thinks they are. Plus, the audience may see gaps or mistakes in perception that the narrator does not. He wants more than anything to be like his brother, but from the reader's point of view, this ambition is questionable: his brother has accomplished nothing, is going nowhere, and has lost both his color vision and his hearing through his own lack of good judgment. Through this first-person narration, other devices arise. There is foreshadowing, as the narrator hints at events to come later. There is lots of imagery and sensory details, as you'll find in any good story.