Tuesday, November 2, 2010

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

Book Jacket

Junior is a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian reservation.  Born with a variety of medical problems, he is picked on by everyone but his best friend.  Determined to receive a good education, junior leaves the rez to attend an all-white school in the neighboring farm town where the only other Indian is the school mascot.  Despite being condemned as a traitor to his people and enduring great tragedies, Junior attacks life with wit and humor and discovers a strength inside of himself that he never knew existed. 

Written with raw emotion by accalimed writer Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, his first novel for young adults, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one unlucky boy trying to rise above the life everyone expects him to live.


I was given this book for Christmas last year, and it was so engrossing that I read the entire thing in between morning presents and an afternoon with the extended family.  For that alone, I recommend it.

However, it is worthy of praise for much more than its readability.  Alexie revealed a new world to me; the story is a semi-authobigraphical story of his own adolescence growing up on a Spokane Indian reservation.  Junior, the narrator, is an intelligent and ambitious high school freshman who is caught between his Native American heritage and the future that seems to be possible only through integration into white society.

While that sounds heavy-handed, the book is anything but.  Junior maintains a sense of humor even when addressing the depressing issues of alcoholism and poverty that are prevelent on the reservation.  Much of his personality is revealed through cartoons that he "tapes" onto the pages.  He is an awesome kid who is trying to make his way in the world without abandoning those who are not as ambitious as he.

I loved the book.  There are some mature themes, so I wouldn't recommend it for all ages, but adults and mature teens should definitely give it a read.  It's funny, it's sad, and it will make you think.

Five out of five stars.

Release Date:  September 2007
Reading Level:  Grade 7+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  YPL ALE

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