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.