11 January 2018

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

Series: N/A
# of Pages: 230
Publication: September 12, 2007
Source: Audiobook/Library Copy
Genre: Realistic Fiction
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Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live. With a forward by Markus Zusak, interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney, and four-color interior art throughout, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike.

Once again this is another book that I’ve had to read for my Young Adult Materials class. I was looking forward to this book because I heard that it was both hilarious and heart-wrenching. And surprisingly it was just that. I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I thought I would, but it definitely gives insight to the experiences of Native Americans in the United States. While I am a person of color, I was not aware of the experiences of those that identify as Native American. Although I won’t go into my personal feelings about the way that Native Americans have been treated in this country, I will say that Sherman Alexie gives you a pretty damn good idea. And as much as people may want to avoid the truth behind those experiences, it is a reality that everyone should face. Alexie delves into racial, intellectual, and economic experiences faced by Native Americans. Most I expected; however, there are others that I didn’t. I definitely related to his difficulty in leaving the reservation and attending a predominantly white school. He had these feelings of not fitting in with either group simply because he was attempting to make something of himself. I’ve had that same experience when I decided to take honors and AP classes at my high school. Although the school itself was split down the middle between whites and blacks, I found that most of the honors and AP classes were predominately white. I didn’t fit in with the kids in those classes and then I didn’t fit in with the rest of the black community simply because they thought I believed I was better than them. There is nothing worse than attempting to make a change in your life and then facing ridicule no matter what decision you make. Alexie really illustrates the issues that Junior had to face based on the decisions he wanted to make.

One of the most heart-wrenching aspects of the book is found in Alexie’s discussion of alcoholism amongst residents of the reservation. Before reading this book I thought that the high rates of alcoholism amongst Native Americans were simply stereotypes; however, after doing further research I found that Native Americans are more likely to experience high rates of alcoholism due to economic disadvantages and culture loss/trauma. It is devastating to know that a group is experiencing such a rampant disease simply because of the effects of colonization.

Outside of those difficult parts of the book, I thought that the writing was excellent. Junior is an interesting character with a numerous amount of difficulties, but one thing he isn’t short of is faith. I love that no matter what happens, Junior always has this sense of courage and faith that things will get better. If you’re looking for an intriguing and interesting #ownvoices book, I would definitely recommend checking this one out.



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