A lot of people have "ragged" on this book saying that the dialogue was unbelievable,that the drama was overrought, that there was too much tragedy and that it was impossible to believe all the events could happen to one group of friends. To these nay-sayers I say pfft, whatever! This was a great read. I don't care about the "problems" with the dialogue, I actually enjoyed the witty reparté. And, for anyone who thinks that Toad's attitude/vocabulary etc. are too adult for him, you've obviously never met my nephew!!
The crux of the book is growth and change of attitude from many different angles. When the book starts, there are so many levels of prejudice affecting the central characters. By the time the book is winding up, the social attitudes have changed and it is apparent that there is a strong ability for people to rise above their humble beginnings. This is demonstrated from a societal perspective as well as from an individual perspective.
The other crux of this book, and what I loved the most, is how the strong bonds of friendship can be a saviour for otherwise lost souls. When people really care about each other as much as they care for themselves, it's amazing what can be accomplished collectively and individually!
So yes, perhaps there was a lot going on in this book. So what. It was easy to follow, the writing was enjoyable and it kept my attention to the bitter end!!