Doug meeting and becoming friends with Lil Spicer is one of the most important events in the novel. At first, Lil doesn't think much of him because he acts the way his oldest brother, Lucas, acts "when he was being the biggest jerk he could be" (Chapter 1). As Doug matures throughout the novel, however, he resists exhibiting the worst behavior of his family members. By chapter 5, Lil and Doug have developed a very close boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.
Doug seeing John James Audubon's drawings for the first time and beginning to take drawing lessons from Mr. Powell are other major events in the novel. Artwork exposes Doug to a new world of beauty he has never known before that helps him better cope with the hardships he endures. By the end of the book, Doug has come to understand that "art can make you forget everything else around you" (Chapter 10).
Other major events are the moments Doug meets new people around the town. The more he meets new people, the more he gets to experience the caring side of humanity he doesn't witness at home. For example, when he works as a delivery boy during the winter for Spicer's Deli, all of the customers he has made friends with offer him something warm to drink. Even Mrs. Windermere, whom he is warned is the town grouch, starts being friendly with him and offers him coffee. All of these friendships help Doug mature into a caring, confident person, ready to see what "next great thing" the future has in store for him (Chapter 10).