Well, it's an adventure story, and a Bildungsroman, of course, but there was also the intention to describe a culture that had been seen in rather narrow terms.
Kids who live in low income areas face extra challenges and show up at schools that were not designed to meet their extra needs.
Giving gifts to others is a fundamental activity, as old as humanity itself. Yet in the modern, complex world, the particulars of gift-giving can be extraordinarily challenging.
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