I am absolutely in love with this book. I just finished it and really thought there was a lot of depth in this one short novel. I really wanted it to be longer, and I didn't want it to end so abruptly. Like post #5, I also wanted to know more about Eugene, maybe have a longer previous scene with him or something. When Junior goes to Rearden, I didn't really find it contrived, but I suppose I can see where people think that. I don't see Penelope as a very well developed character, and thought she was very shallow. But having taught this age level, I recognized that she went for the one person at the school who was new and different, and therefore something special. And she was rebelling, trying to make her racist father angry, so all of this made sense to me. Even Junior knew that Penelope didn't really fully love him, but was using him in different ways. Needless to say, I wasn't a huge fan of Penelope. One thing I'd like to see: a sequel. Junior's only 14, what happens next?
While reading the book, I wanted more in-depth pictures of the minor characters in the novel. I realize that this is Junior's story and as a result the focus should be on his journey; however, some of the minor characters appeared more flat and even stereotypical than I would have liked. For example, Junior looks up to his uncle Eugene whom we learn little about, and then suddenly he dies. A fuller picture of Eugene before his death would have given me a better idea about Junior's relationship with him.
I love this book, so it's very hard to choose something to change!
I would say the only thing would be to have the main character have to "suffer" a bit more at his new high school. When he gets there he stands up to one bully one time and then suddenly has gained the respect of the entire school. In addition to this he is a star athlete and his girlfriend is one of the most beautiful and popular girls in the school!
It almost seems to easy for him, which may be a bit unrealistic. Then again, I love that quality of the book because it shows that sometimes our fears are unfounded! I'd still like those things to all happen to him, but maybe see him go through a bit more hardship than what he actually does.
I agree that Juniors experience at Reardon is almost unrealistic. After the first few days Junior barely faces any issues. I would have thought that he would have had a much harder time in a school where he is the only Indian. The other thing that I did not like about the book was that emotions often crossed over into completely different emotions. For example when Junior finds out about his sisters death he goes into fits of laughter. I did not like this aspect of the book at all. I thought it was completely unrealistic and did not add to the book whatsoever.
I thought that part of the book (Poster #2 refers to it) was very contrived and not too realistic. Almost Hollywood novelish in a way.