Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
Wow. This book was awesome. I’ve been meaning to read this one for some time. It’s on my 2014 challenge list. And I was reminded of my need to read it several times this year. This book has been in the news for being banned (this year). And then the author was on the Colbert Report not too long ago. And I guess I took this all to mean I better bring this up on my TBR pile. And I’m so glad I did.
I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting. But what I got was a book that both had me laughing out loud, and shedding a few tears. This is the ultimate underdog kind of book. And I love books where I’m meant to cheer on the underdog (that’s kind of why I watched the show, Glee, for so long).
I loved getting to see inside a reservation. I found Junior’s life to be both tragic and fascinating. The poor kid never had anything easy. When he leaves his rez to get better schooling, he’s ostracized at home for being a traitor. At his school, he stands out for not looking like anyone else. He hitchhikes on a regular basis, has been the long-lasting punching bag for various bullies on the rez, and to top it all off, Junior also has a medical condition. Is he not the ultimate underdog material?
The book deals with some intense subjects like alcoholism, racism, death, grief, depression, bulling, violence, poverty, and a little gambling. But it’s not overtly about any of these things. The book is more about Junior coming to terms with who he is, about growing up. Through it all are some funny comic-style illustrations and plenty of dark humor.
I liked that this book dealt with hard topics like racism in a sort of off-hand way. Never did it feel like I was being preached to. And at the same time, I loved watching certain characters grow, and become less ignorant.
The book was rather empowering too. It took serious courage for Junior to realize when he did that he had to leave. Junior knew that he wanted more than what his family had and that what the world was willing to give him. And I feel like that’s what the book was mainly about: realizing what you want and going after it (no matter how hard life gets).
I read this book in one sitting, not something I tend to do with contemporaries. I loved the characters. I loved getting to see inside a reservation. I found the humor to be awesome. I liked that serious issues were discussed without making the book just a serious issues book. I loved cheering for the lonely underdog. And I can’t really come up with anything negative to say. I give it a 10/10.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this one, too! I didn't realize you hadn't read it yet.