Maniac Magee, written by Jerry Spinelli in 1990 and winner of the Newbery Medal in 1991, follows an orphaned boy named Jeffery Lionel Magee (colloquially "Maniac" Magee) as he seeks out a home and confronts the racism of the 1980s/1990s in the fictional city of Two Mills, Pennsylvania.
After Jeffery Magee's parents die in a car accident, he is sent to live with his aunt and uncle. However, their fraught marriage drives him to (literally) run away to the city of Two Mills, Pennsylvania. There, Jeffery meets Amanda Beale, a resident of the African-American section of Two Mills - East End - and an avid reader of books and encyclopedias. Jeffery soon earns her friendship through his interest in reading and begins to grow in notoriety due to his associations with black children and adults, confrontation of town bullies, and wowing of crowds in a series of sports games. Maniac moves around from house to house, living with the Beales, then with the zoo keeper Earl Grayson, and then with the McNabs. Maniac Magee faces negativity due to his race throughout the book, but he eventually finds a home through the friends who come to love him as family.