Rowdy is Junior’s best friend. They have been best friends since they were babies. Rowdy is
“having one of the worst summers of his life.”
His father abuses him and his mother. Rowdy’s father is
“drinking hard and throwing punches.”
Rowdy uses Junior’s house as a place to escape from his father. Rowdy does not know how to process emotions because there is only anger in the household, but he does not fit there because he feels more than his parents do. Rowdy hides behind a wall of “toughness”. Rowdy is only kind to Junior and Junior is the only one who knows how to make Rowdy laugh.
At the beginning of the book, Rowdy’s friendship with Junior is his only normal, healthy relationship. Junior is the only person he can share his dreams with. Rowdy doesn’t have much hope. He has given up on his dreams. Junior is the only good thing in Rowdy’s life. At the beginning of the book Junior
“found Rowdy sitting in his usual place on the playground. He was alone, of course. Everybody was scared of him.”
Junior thinks that
“Rowdy might be the most important person in my life”.
When Junior leaves Rowdy becomes angry at him because he left the Rez. to go to an all-white school. Rowdy feels like Junior has deserted him.
When Junior tells Rowdy about moving to a new school, Rowdy gets mad at him and Junior starts to cry.
“I started crying. That wasn’t surprising at all, but Rowdy started crying too, and he hated that. He wiped his eyes, stared at his wet hand, and screamed. I’m sure that everybody on the rez heard that scream. It was the worst thing I’d ever heard. It was pain, pure pain.”
He breaks communication with Junior, but he wishes that he hadn’t left.
“Rowdy may have flipped me off, but he hadn’t torn up my cartoon. As much as he hated me he probably should have ripped it to pieces.”
“But Rowdy still respected my cartoons. And so maybe he still respected me a little bit.”
At the end of the book, Rowdy finally accepts that Junior is going to leave the reservation and that’s OK. He feels that Junior will lead a better life and he wants that life for Junior.
“I always knew you were going to leave. I always knew you were going to leave us behind and travel the world. I had this dream about you a few months ago. You were standing on the Great Wall of China. You looked happy. And I was happy for you.”
Junior talks about the reconciliation between him and Rowdy, and the picture his words paint have an almost magical feel. You can tell that they will always be friends, no matter where they are.
“Rowdy and I played one-on-one for hours. We played until the streetlight lit up the court. We played until the bats swooped down at our heads. We played until the moon was huge and golden and perfect in the dark sky. We didn’t keep score.”