Alisa B, October 19, 2013 (view all comments by Alisa B)
You can say I'm sheltered. I am from a middle class background and am blessed to live in a nice area. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie opened my eyes to many the challenges living in a different environment would present using the voice of his humorous young narrator.
The narrator of this novel is named Arnold, but he is called Junior by his family. He is an Native American living on a impoverished reservation. Junior was born with too much cerebral fluid in his brain leaving him with a lisp and overly large head marking him as an outcast from the start. He transfers out of his reservation school to an all white one and manages to change the way the students at his school and the people on his reservation view the world. At most times Junior is a wisecracking, mocking narrator, but at times he delves into deeper things with great insight such as when he talks about his poor financial situation concluding that, "poverty doesn't give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No poverty only teaches you about being poor" (13).
It was easy to connect with Junior because he ruminates on things that all teenagers would such as his lack of a girlfriend and deals with problems that people in all walks of life face such as the death of loved ones.
This novel is funny a yet still manages to touch on serious matters. However it took me one sitting to read, so I would recommend this to someone looking for a light hearted, easy book to pass the time.
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magnawat, January 11, 2012 (view all comments by magnawat)
This is a great story for anyone who's ever thought they might not fit into the group. Mr. Alexie wrote it as a book for Young Adults, but both my husband and I are old adults and enjoyed it.
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janice gill, September 14, 2009 (view all comments by janice gill)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian is the best of the best by one of my favorite authors. I was ecstatic when I learned that Alexie had written a book for children. I read the book to my son, who prior to this book tended to resist reading, and by page one he was eating it up, begging me to stay awake to finish "just one more chapter"! The cartoons, going hand-in-hand with the coming of age story that any child, but particularly my biracial son, could relate to, reeled him in, but the story is what kept him going and eventually had him asking for his own copy, which he is now reading for his second time. This makes a third generation of avowed Alexie fans in my family. This book has it all: the unmatchable subtle Alexie humor, a good story, characters you can't help but admire and, for the kid in all of us, those understated, compelling drawings. Go check a copy out of your library today!
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Patricia Edmondson, October 30, 2008 (view all comments by Patricia Edmondson)
Thank you, Sherman, for yet another great read. This one ...I couldn't put down. I had to read the entire book in one weekend. I thought I might miss something if I closed the pages. It was a page turner, for sure.
Then, there were my students who blazed through the pages giggling all the way. They continue to tell me how much they love this book. That doesn't happen often with book titles...kids walk up to me and say, "I love this book!" One student wants to be a writer, and she said this book inspired her.
More YA lit, please. Kids devour books when you write for them.
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
0 stars -
Little, Brown Young Readers -
by Jill S.,
Once I started this book, I couldn't stop reading. Not only is this young adult book funny and touching it feels so real. Anyone of any age who has struggled to know themselves and has fought for happiness will find resonance in the words and pictures in this impressive work.
by Jill S.
by Jill S.,
Although based (mostly) on his own experience growing up on an Indian reservation, this seemingly depressing tale is anything but. Hilariously funny, lighthearted but wholly sobering, Alexie's story kept me absorbed through the night.
by Jill S.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Screenwriter, novelist and poet, Alexie bounds into YA with what might be a Native American equivalent of Angela's Ashes, a coming-of-age story so well observed that its very rootedness in one specific culture is also what lends it universality, and so emotionally honest that the humor almost always proves painful. Presented as the diary of hydrocephalic 14-year-old cartoonist and Spokane Indian Arnold Spirit Jr., the novel revolves around Junior's desperate hope of escaping the reservation. As he says of his drawings, 'I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats.' He transfers to a public school 22 miles away in a rich farm town where the only other Indian is the team mascot. Although his parents support his decision, everyone else on the rez sees him as a traitor, an apple ('red on the outside and white on the inside'), while at school most teachers and students project stereotypes onto him: 'I was half Indian in one place and half white in the other.' Readers begin to understand Junior's determination as, over the course of the school year, alcoholism and self-destructive behaviors lead to the deaths of close relatives. Unlike protagonists in many YA novels who reclaim or retain ethnic ties in order to find their true selves, Junior must separate from his tribe in order to preserve his identity. Jazzy syntax and Forney's witty cartoons examining Indian versus White attire and behavior transmute despair into dark humor; Alexie's no-holds-barred jokes have the effect of throwing the seriousness of his themes into high relief. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Horn Book,
"The line between dramatic monologue, verse novel, and standup comedy gets unequivocally — and hilariously and triumphantly — bent in this novel about coming of age on the rez....Junior's spirit...is unquenchable, and his style inimitable..."
by 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."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Alexie nimbly blends sharp wit with unapologetic emotion in his first foray into young-adult literature."
"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....Younger teens looking for the strength to lift themselves out of rough situations would do well to start here."
Based on the author's own experiences, this first young adult novel by bestselling author Alexie features poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art as it chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy attempting to break away from the life he was destined to live.
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