The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Review From User :

Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a short novel labeled young adult but more appropriate for adult audiences. A mere 230 pages including comic sketches, Alexie details the plight of Arnold aka Junior, a 14 year old Spokane Indian living on a reservation. Born with brain damage to alcoholic parents, Junior was never given a chance by anyone to succeed. It did not help that in his tribe, no one left the reservation. The Spokane Indians would spend their entire lives on the "rez" in poverty. Most kids would attend more funerals mainly alcohol related by the one they start high school than most adults do in a lifetime. But Arnold wanted something more. Arnold wanted a chance at achieving his dreams.
A quarter of the way into his freshman year of high school, Arnold tells his parents he would like to attend Reardan High School 22 miles away. Just like that, his parents agree to this request even though they realize that it will be a hardship on them. Most of the time, his parents have no money to get him to school and he hitchhikes. Yet, Arnold is determined to succeed even if it means being labeled white by his tribe including his best friend Rowdy and Indian or outsider by the rest of his school.
Arnold had two things going for him- his brains and basketball. His coach took notice of him and placed him on varsity as a freshman. Earning the respect from head jock Roger and head brain Gordy as well semi- girl friend Penelope, Arnold slowly becomes part of Reardan's inner circle. Through his good grades and stellar play on the basketball court, the other students do not label Arnold as "that Indian kid" by the end of the school year.
Filled with teenage angst and dealing with mature themes such as death to loved ones and alcoholism, this book has been banned in many communities. Despite the comics that made me laugh, this is not a book that I would want my kids to read until they are mature enough to handle it. Yet, this is a powerful book for adults, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a glimpse into contemporary life on an Indian reservation, which is unfortunately not only the glitz of the casinos that we hear about. Alexie from this short book appears to be a gifted writer, as this won a notable book award. I look forward to reading more of his works, as well as his documentary film Smoke Signals.


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 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.

With a forward by Markus Zusak, interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney, and four-color interior art throughout, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike.

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