The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
By: Sherman Alexie
Published: October 2009 by Little, Brown Young Readers
Pages: 230 Paperback
Book Art: Reminds me of the plastic Fred Indians you get in the cheap bag of cowboy and Indian figures, but in a more colorful way.
Tags: Native American, Fiction, Young Adult, Humor
First Line: I was born with water on the brain.
Why the Mad Scientist picked up the book:
This book was picked out for the school book club read.
(I presently go to a Native American college.)
Concoction of a Review:
What to say about this one? This book was heart felt and humorous all at once in a way that will keep you engrossed throughout the entirety of the book. If you know us Natives, I would have to say that we have survived throughout so many hardships because we know how to laugh. Not only at jokes, people, and funny pictures but also at ourselves. The Mad Scientist believes this book wraps all of the that up very nicely.
I read this book quickly in one sitting. Although, there were many funny comments that I found myself sharing with other members of the family. My grandma is more traditional then I am but she was laughing along with me and shaking her head at a few parts that pull on the heart strings of our community, mostly likely every Native community.
*Shakes head* Sadly, this book is getting hit hard by critics. A few places this book is banned and in other cases it is to be banned. *Gasps* Brutal honesty is what this book offers. It would be a tragedy if people could not pick up this book and be transported to a Reservation.
Onward with the review...
Junior AKA Arnold Spirit is a young man that lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington. He is a kid with many health problems. This of course leads Junior to be the center of bully heaven. *Tsk Tsk* However, he is lucky enough to have a friend who loves to fight and protect him, Rowdy. Their friendship was tight until Junior decided that he was going to go and better himself. Now who doesn't like a fellow who tries to learn?
Junior's realization about life changes when he sees his mothers name written in his text book. *Snap* This is when he decided that he was going to go to the white school off the reservation. He deserved to have a good education, right? Rowdy and the tribe felt that Junior was saying that the tribe was not good enough for his company. Once Junior left the rez he was no longer as much Indian to his people as he really was.
He had a hard time finding a place in the white school as well. Soon enough confrontation hit him again, except this time there was no Rowdy. Junior did what any self respecting boy would do, stand up for himself and punch the other dude. Which was great aside from the fact it did not provide the results expected. (I'll let you read about that one.)
Now with many books you expect a love interest. True for this book as well. Junior fell in love with a white girl at the school. What? Did he loose his mind on the walk to school? How does a boy with a big head and stutter get the girl? Well, I'll let you read about that one as well.
Junior is having Thanksgiving dinner with his family. He comments on how odd it is for Native Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving on the reservation. My words when it comes to our Thanksgiving at home. Confused, he asks his father what they have to be thankful for. His father says they should be thankful that the white man didn't kill all of them. They have a good laugh at that.
I had a good laugh at that. But really, it is not funny at all.
We can not forget about the whimsical drawings (by Ellen Forney). They bring Juniors stories to life in a whole different way. I'm pretty sure I laughed and let out a sigh after each and every one of those drawings.
I should mention that the whole book is not full of funny world realization from our hero Junior but there are vary sad parts that revolve around people. And it seems even more so to people that live on reservations. Drinking problems, death, being poor, and racism is all addressed in this semi true diary of Sherman Alexie's life.
Quotes from the Book:
"That's right, I am a book kisser."
"Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor."
"I was studying the sky like I was an astronomer, except it was daytime and I didn't have a telescope, so I was just an idiot."
""I used to think the world was broken down by tribes," I said. "By black and white. By Indian and white. But I know that isn't true. The world is only broken into two tribes: The people who are assholes and the people who are not."
"I wasn't just defending myself. I was defending Indians, black people, and buffalo."
"But the thing is, I was having those seizures because I already had brain damage, so I was reopening wounds each time I seized. Yup, whenever I had a seizure, I was damaging my damage."
A quick witty read with interesting drawings that bring you into
a probably life to be had on the reservation.