Author: Sherman Alexie
- Published: September 12, 2007
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Reading Level: Ages 15 and Up
- Pages: 230 pages
- Source: Library
In his first book for young adults, 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 acclaimed artist 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
Normally, I wouldn't review a book such as this, but I absolutely loved this book. It's not often that I come across a realistic piece of young adult literature that has an Indian as the main character. It is easy to fall in love with Arnold "Junior" Spirit and you can't help but to envision a young Alexie as you read because of aspects of his past that Alexie drew upon to create this story and characterize Junior.
Junior grew up with water on the brain. Because of this, he had a series of health complications and various oddly shaped body parts. But that never stopped him. Sure, he wasn't the best with girls and he didn't have many friends. It didn't matter that he spent more time drawing cartoons that'll make you laugh out loud then he did out and about on the rez. He was going somewhere. He had a meltdown after seeing his mother's name in a textbook at his school. His education was important to him, after all. He couldn't use textbooks so outdated that they were around when his mother was his age! Because of this, he made the daring decision to switch to an all white school where he could receive an education that'll get him somewhere in life, effectively ostracizing himself even further from his tribe.
This book is Junior's journey to self-discovery. Filled with a great cast of supporting characters, you will follow Junior through the beginning stages of his high school career and get a first hand glimpse of the prejudices between Whites and Native Americans in South Dakota. Because of all of this, the novel is incredibly controversial despite winning the National Book Award. Not only does this book make [what some parents deem to be] inappropriate references, it also puts a heavy emphasis on the racism a Spoken Indian experiences. If it means anything, I think those "inappropriate" references are middle school health class type things that can be shared in a classroom because this book gives students cultural background and anyone with the smallest ounce of maturity can overlook them. Junior's a young teenage boy after all, what do you really expect?
I highly encourage anybody to read this book. It allows you to learn of a new culture while you laugh continuously at Junior's sense of humor and amazing cartooning abilities. The writing isn't all that complex, but this still remains a must-read for anyone in my mind.
If you want to learn more about Spokane Indians from author Sherman Alexei, I encourage you to check out the movie Smoke Signals. He wrote the script and, again, this shows a lot about a culture that we think we know about, but don't really know as well as we think we do.
The cover is simple. It's nothing fantastic, but I love it anyway. Probably because the story inside is so important. It feels almost as if the cover connects with Junior perfectly.