If I Ever Get Out of Here, by Eric Gansworth (book review) – rez life, the Beatles, a new view

book cover of If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth published by Arthur A Levine BooksBand on the Run
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“Live and Let Die”

Music takes Lewis out of his tumbling-down house on the Tuscarora Reservation in the mid-1970s, where water comes from the pump outside and the outhouse is horrible in summer, worse in winter. His first white friend shares his taste in music – life may be okay for a while in junior high, despite the bullies and prejudice.

As an Air Force brat myself, I understand how George must quickly make friends when his father is transferred to a new base and be ready to uproot and do it all again in a heartbeat.

Read this interview to see why the author drew his own versions of the album covers which Lewis and George listen to again and again. Every chapter is a 70s song title, reflecting Gansworth’s growing-up years on the reservation.

This is a “don’t miss” title on my 2013 list, so when you’re looking for it on the shelf, note that the book spine is same blue as the headphones, not orange like the cover.


Book info: If I Ever Get Out of Here / Eric Gansworth. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Junior high advanced classes aren’t a good place for a skinny reservation kid with glasses in the 1970s, but Lewis might just survive thanks to his first white friend and rock music.

Always moving with his Air Force dad, the new guy George makes friends fast and simply ignores the “welfare Indian” label that most kids give to Lewis. They both love the Beatles and Wacky Pack stickers, but Lewis won’t let George see his falling-down house on the reservation after visiting the Haddonfields’ tidy home on base.

When George’s dad finds out that Paul McCartney’s new band Wings is playing a concert in nearby Toronto, he promises to take both boys, despite difficulties with the tickets.

Lewis’s uncle reminds him that moving between the white world and the reservation will make his life harder, even as the town big-shot’s son decides to beat up Lewis daily in school despite all his efforts to stay clear.

Why won’t the teachers stop the bullying going on right under their noses?
How can Lewis repay the Haddonfields’ hospitality without inviting them to his house?

Music runs through this book about the power of friendship to change expectations about life, even when so much in Lewis’s life may never change for the better. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

2 thoughts on “If I Ever Get Out of Here, by Eric Gansworth (book review) – rez life, the Beatles, a new view

  1. There’s a lot of intereting themes in this YA book from bullying to coming of age to the Native American experience. It sounds really interesting! Thanks for linking up to The Multicultural Children’s Book Day linky!

  2. Pingback: Multicultural Children’s Book Day – windows & mirrors for us all | BooksYALove

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