The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
About: This is the story of 14 year-old Arnold Spirit (aka Junior). Junior is Native American. He lives on a reservation (The Rez) near Spokane, Washington, with his family. Rowdy is his only friend so Junior draws cartoons to help deal with his loneliness, the bullying he endures, and the general hopelessness of life. He is also super smart and one of his teacher’s tells him to leave the Rez if he wants to break out of the hopelessness. Junior decides that he wants to go to school in Reardan, the closest town to the Rez. At first, everyone at the new school ignores him or bullies him but he figures out how to fit in. But there’s stuff going on at home, too. Family turmoil plus Rowdy hates him because he left the Rez and tried to make something out of himself. Even with all of the pain and suffering, Junior maintains a sense of humor and manages to find HOPE.
Roben says: For years I have heard so many great things about this book and it is all true – the book is absolutely AMAZING. It is funny and sad and heartbreaking and very, very wise. I listened to the audio but also checked out the book because I wanted to see the illustrations. I totally recommend listening to it, though, since Sherman Alexie narrates it and it is his story. On his blog he says the book is 76% autobiographical. He really grew up on the Rez and when he was 14, he decided to go to Reardan to attend high school. And he was super intelligent and played basketball, just like Junior. So listening to him read the story is pretty awesome. The book gives great insight into what it is like to be really poor and the kid that everyone picks on, beats up, and calls names. It also talks about friendship and family and being Native American though Sherman refers to himself as an apple – he is red on the outside and white on the inside.
Reviewed by Roben