I honestly really enjoyed reading this book. It is enlightening, in a way, to be exposed to the harsh realities that many individuals have gone through, and still go through today. My own life has been rather fortunate, and I have not experienced anything close to the poverty and descrimination that Piri experienced in this book. And I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in a bubble of naivety, unaware of the difficult, trying and harsh conditions of many people across the globe or even within the same city you live in (the Downtown East Side, for example). Although this aspect of poverty and drug addiction is foreign to me, I believe the struggle with identity and fitting in is a universal concept and experience. I think the historical context in this novel is not only important (during the Great Depression), but also the time point in Piri’s life; puberty is a confusing and frustrating time for just about anyone. It is a time of critical importance for biological transformations, especially in the brain, as well as understanding who you are, the social constructs and where you fit within that. Thus, it is a book of coming of age and perhaps the events that Piri experiences are dramatized fluctuations that we have all experienced to some extent – a panic of finding who we are, an obsessive need to fit in (for which personal values may be put aside), an internal dialogue that conflicts with what words we spill out into the world, self consciousness and guilt and familial struggles, the list goes on. In this sense, perhaps Piri could be envisioned as an “everyday man”; although, his story is unique. Someone said that this book was sad, but for me, it was inspirational. It takes bravery and ‘heart’ to go through everything Piri went through; to fight his drug addiction, to go through jail, to come out stronger and with more clarity than ever in his life. But it takes even more courage to relive that pain, that suffering, that turmoil, and share it with the entire world. We discussed whether Piri was a hero – perhaps he is not a hero for having had an identity crisis, a drug addiction and jailtime, but he may very well be a hero for sharing his story and trying to touch and inspire millions of lives with the pain and ultimate breakthrough he experienced.