Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
240 pages

“Traveling between Reardan and Wellpinit, between the little white town and the reservation, I always felt like a stranger. I was half Indian in one place, and half white in the other.”

Summary: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a story about a nerdy boy named Junior (or Arnold Spirit) from the Spokane Reservation. Set up in a commentary form, Junior gives humorous and painful commentary about the realities of reservation life including alcoholism, violence, poverty and the sense of utter worthlessness. Through the encouragement of his teacher, Junior decides to go to school in the rich white town outside of the reservation. He struggles between his two identities as he makes friends in the white school and becomes an outsider with his tribe.

Review: While the description of what it is like for those growing up and living on reservations is completely heartbreaking, Alexie is able to keep the book light-hearted and has the reader laughing out loud. Junior is a lovable and honest character and his narrative is captivatingly hilarious, yet it is the other characters that give the story real heart. These include Junior’s best friend Rowdy, the perfect yet unhappy Penelope, his broken but wonderful parents, his romantically inspired sister and his wonderfully wise grandmother. This story is about finding oneself outside of the things that try to define us, that we can be anything we want, and limitations are only there if we let them be. I really enjoyed this book and would strongly recommend it to anyone of any age. Also, as a cartoonist, Alexie includes his drawings, which in most cases provide more insight than the actual text. Those that enjoy humorous books would really enjoy this, as well as those interested in Native American narratives.

If you liked the multicultural aspects of this book you might enjoy : Re-gifters by Mike Carely, Nothing but the Truth and a Few White Lies by Justina Chen Headley, Off-Colour by Janet McDonald Slam! by Walter Dean Myers

If you like reading about Native Americans, you might enjoy: Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac and Dogsong by Gary Paulsen

5Q 4P MJ


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