and won the Booker Prize in 2003.
The title character is a fifteen-year-old boy who lives in a small town in the U.S. state of Texas
. When his friend Jesus Navarro commits suicide after killing sixteen bullying schoolmates, suspicion falls on Vernon, who becomes something of a scapegoat in his small hometown of Martirio.
God knows I tried my best to learn the ways of this world, even had inklings we could be glorious; but after all that's happened, the inkles ain't easy anymore. I mean—what kind of fucken life is this?
This ink would survive Armageddon, I swear. Cockroaches, and this fucken fingerprint ink.
Velcro spiders seize my spine. You know gray areas are invisible on video. You don't want to be here the day shit gets figured out in black and white. I ain't saying I'm to blame, don't get me wrong. I'm calm about that, see? Under my grief glows a serenity that comes from knowing the truth always wins in the end. Why do movies end happy? Because they imitate life. You know it, I know it. But my ole lady lacks that fucken knowledge, big-time.
The sheriff puffs up like he just discovered fucken relativity.
When the rubbing of her thighs has faded, I crane my nostrils for any vague comfort; a whiff of warm toast, a spearmint breath. But all I whiff, over the sweat and the barbecue sauce, is school—the kind of pulse bullyboys give off when they spot a quiet one, a wordsmith, in a corner. The scent of lumber being cut for a fucken cross.
Mom's best friend is called Palmyra. Everybody calls her Pam. She's fatter than Mom, so Mom feels good around her. Mom's other friends are slimmer. They're not her best friends.
So the door flies open. Pam wobbles in, bolt upright like she has books on her head. It's on account of her center of gravity. 'Vernie, you eatin ribs? What did you eat today?' : 'Breakfast.' : 'Oh Lord, we better go by the Barn.' Doesn't matter what you tell her, she's going by Bar-B-Chew Barn, believe me.
Next thing you know, I'm halfway out of the building in Palmyra's gravity-field. You just can't argue with this much modern woman, I tell you.
Outside, a jungle of clouds has grown over the sun. They kindle the whiff of damp dog that always blows around here before a storm, burping lightning without a sound. Fate clouds. They mean get the fuck out of town, go visit Nana or something, until things quiet down, until the truth seeps out. Get rid of the drugs from home, then take a road trip.