The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Review)

April 7, 2011

Book cover for "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie.Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Author & Narrator: Sherman Alexie

Publication Year: 2007

Pages: 288 (audio length: 4 hours 51 minutes)

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult

Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com

From the cover:

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 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 thought he was destined to live.

This is one of those books that will touch you in a deep and profound way.

It’s hard to tell where Alexie ends and where his character, Junior, begins. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is supposedly semi-autobiographical, but not completely. Regardless of how much is true and how much is changed, though, Junior’s story is intense.

Alexie makes Junior out to be this smart – but also not-so-street-smart – kid on a reservation who sees the lives of those around him going to waste or being ruined and wants something better for himself. And the way that he writes the character, Junior comes across as extremely awkward and funny, but not funny on purpose. I think that came across particularly well in the audiobook, though I’m sure you’d feel it as well reading it on paper. It added a necessary kind of levity to it at times, taking away from the bleak subject matter and some of the things that happen in the book.

I’m really not sure what to say about this book, other than to tell you that it’s a really tragic and heart-wrenching narrative of someone wanting to grow up to escape his surroundings and the destiny that seems to have already been chosen for him. If you’re going to suggest a book to a disenfranchised kid, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian would absolutely be the way to go. And you know what? It was a great book for me, too, and I’m sure it would be a great read for you. Alexie weaves a story that pretty much anyone could learn from and respect.

Rating:

8 Comments

  • Helen Murdoch April 7, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I really enjoyed this book. I cried, I laughed out loud, it made me think. What more could we want from literature?

  • softdrink April 7, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    There are some great illustrations in the book…you should go to a bookstore and flip through it just to check them out. 😀

    • Carina May 24, 2011 at 10:43 am

      I definitely will one day!

  • Nana Fredua-Agyeman April 8, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I would read it if I get access to it.

  • PragmaticMom April 8, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Debbie Reese, the preeminent scholar on Native American Children’s Lit, put together a list of her favorite YA books. I have it here http://www.pragmaticmom.com/?p=11813 and wanted to share as The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian is on it.

  • Aths April 8, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I’ve seen this book around. It sure sounds amazing! I will have to go pick it from my library!

    • Carina May 24, 2011 at 10:42 am

      Definitely! I kind of wish I had read a paper copy so that I could’ve seen the illustrations, but hearing the author’s story in his own voice was nice.

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