Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: New York, 2009. ISBN 9780316013697.
This is the story of a young boy named Junior, who is a wannabe cartoonist living in the Spokane Indian Reservation. But he wants more for his life than the constant reservation life that everyone gets sucked into. He leaves the reservation to go to an all white farm town high school. Based on the events of the author, this book is a contemporary coming of age about a boy who wants to break free from the mold others expect him to stay in.
This book was okay. It was written decently, but I just wasn’t very interested in the story. I didn’t feel immersed in it. I kept getting pulled out of the story, and had a hard time finishing it.
That being said, it did a good job in themes and in showing the Native American culture.
Alcoholism and poverty are among the two most common hardships those living on reservations face. This is made evident in the book. In fact, our main character’s parents are alcoholic.
The other thing I liked about this book was about overcoming disability. Junior was born with brain damage, but despite it, is incredibly intelligent and gifted in both drawing and basketball. He battles those related issues to do what he loves, which earns him respect at the white school he goes to, off the reservation.
If nothing else, the morals are good, and can show how we can overcome any issues facing us, but more importantly, how who we are/where we were born does not define who we become.
From School Library Journal:
The teen’s determination to both improve himself and overcome poverty, despite the handicaps of birth, circumstances, and race, delivers a positive message in a low-key manner. Alexie’s tale of self-discovery is a first purchase for all libraries.
Alexie’s humor and prose are easygoing and well suited to his young audience, and he doesn’t pull many punches as he levels his eye at stereotypes both warranted and inapt. A few of the plotlines fade to gray by the end, but this ultimately affirms the incredible power of best friends to hurt and heal in equal measure. Younger teens looking for the strength to lift themselves out of rough situations would do well to start here.
From New York Times:
“This is a gem of a book….may be [Sherman Alexie’s] best work yet.”
Books by Sherman Alexie:
Flight ISBN 9780802170378
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven ISBN 9780802141675
Other Books about Native Americans:
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume ISBN 9780330398121
Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski ISBN 9780064461627
The Indian in the Cupboard by Scott O’Dell ISBN 9780007148981
Why do Native American’s face the challenges they do? How are ways we can help?