The reader meets Zits one morning when he is counting the pimples on his face (47 in all) in front of the bathroom mirror at the home of his newest set of foster parents. From the get-go, Mr. Alexie lets the reader in on the messy interior life of this marginalized teenager: “I’m dying from about ninety-nine kinds of shame. I’m ashamed of being fifteen years old. And being tall. And skinny. And ugly. I’m ashamed that I look like a bag of zits tied to a broomstick. I wonder if loneliness causes acne. I wonder if being Indian causes acne.”
After Zits lands in a juvenile jail in the Central District of Seattle for the umpteenth time, he meets a white, pretty-boy anarchist named Justice, who schools him on how to take his sorry life into his own hands. Instead of opening fire on bystanders in a crowded bank, as Justice wanted, Zits finds himself on a time-traveling journey that traverses multiple centuries and transforms his worn-out soul in unexpected ways.