Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie

From GoodReads, "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."

     I know that this book came out in 2007, but I just had a student read this book and brought it back into the library laughing.  I had read it awhile ago and remembered liking it, but his reaction made me want to read it again. Wow, now I remember why I liked it so much the first time.  

     The book is told from the perspective of Junior, a high school boy, that leaves his school on the Indian reservation to attend a nearby school where the majority of the school is white.  It is easy to see from reading Alexie's take on Junior's life why this book was a National Book Award winner.  I actually wasn't sure that I would like the novel because I am neither a teen boy or a Native American, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Alexis' writing touches the teen loner in all of us.  The person that wants to be so much more than what they truly are.  I loved Junior's voice and thought his was both insightful and funny.  I learned recently that this book was loosely based on Alexie's life experiences and what experiences they are.  I loved the fact that even though Junior had many things to overcome, he was able to weather the storms of his life with humor and resilience.  The perfect mix of emotional highs and lows is what makes this book such an enjoyable read and Alexie's writing makes you feel such a deep connection to Junior that sometimes you think you are Junior.  I also enjoyed the mix of writing and cartoon images throughout the book and felt that the illustrations really added to my understanding of Junior's life.  There were definitely times that I was acutely aware that I wasn't a teen boy, thanks to some stomach-turning humor, but that is the beauty of its appeal for teens and it is easy to see why my student left the library laughing to himself.  

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