Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Humor, Realistic Fiction, Cultural
Published On: September 12th 2007
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
My Rating: 5 Stars
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.
Okay, so before writing this review, I spent an hour googling and obsessing over Sherman Alexie. As I mentioned in my last post, I was introduced to this book by my English professor who showed my class an interview of Alexie, which I enjoyed and you should definitely check it out if you can, and then recommended I read this book as an introduction to Alexie’s work. So I did, and I absolutely loved it… and it resulted in me spending way too much time on his website and wikipedia page… (which, after thoroughly reading both those websites and this book, I can not wait to read more of his work!)
But anyway, back to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. This book had a lot of humor to make up for the really sad truths it reveals about what Junior has to go through as a member of the Spokane Indian Reservation. His family and most of the people on the Reservation are poor, and through the voice of Junior, Alexie details the hardships that come as a result.
Due to his lack of access to quality education- at his school on the Reservation, he uses the same math textbook his mother studied from several decades ago when she was his age- he makes the decision to leave the reservation to go to school.
He finds himself somehow fitting in more at the all-white school in the next town, where he becomes a star athlete and excels academically. However, he still has to face the struggles of his poverty, one of which being the difficulty for him to travel the distance to school due to the lack of money for transportation. He often has to hitchhike or walk the dozens of miles to get there. Additionally, after leaving the reservation he becomes an outcast at home, even more than he already was due to his medical conditions.
While this isn’t an autobiography or a memoir, much of this book is said to reflect on Alexie’s own childhood, giving it an authenticity that contrasts some of the unbelievably terrible situations Junior finds himself in. Overall, the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian combines humor and heartbreak through Alexie’s words and stories and Forney’s artwork to create a book that is definitely worth reading.
Also, Alexie has a movie on Netflix called Smoke Signals that I’m eager to watch. If you’re interested in this book, or have enjoyed any of Alexie’s other works, be sure to check out this movie!