Junior, growing up poor on the Spokane Indian Reservation, decides to go to the local white high school to get a better education and just to get *out*. He faces racism from his new classmates and resentment from his old ones, and a lot of internal conflict about abandoning his home; he also gets a lot of support and love from his flawed and believable family.
It helps that he's really, really funny. And so are the cartoons--he's a budding cartoonist (illustrations by Ellen Forney). I flipped through and cracked up over the cover to an Indian romance novel (busty blonde and muscular brave), because it is so, so true