The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Sherman Alexie  |  Fiction


sherman-alexie-23This is a young adult book, but it kept coming across my radar, so I decided to give it a try.  Besides, I devoured Harry Potter and those are young adult books!

Junior is a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation.  Born with physical challenges, he is picked on by everyone.  But he decides to attend an all-white school outside the rez, and then is branded a traitor.  Can you tell this is a funny book?  Sherman Alexie is amazing!

Inspired by his own life and wit, this book addresses all of life’s saddest challenges –  from domestic abuse to alcoholism, racism to low expectations, poverty, death, fisticuffs, basketball and love – with humor and clarity.  This would be a great book for teaching a young adult about what life is really like – and is a great opportunity for us as adults to see the world through the ideas of a witty writer and cartoonist. 

Here is an example of how Alexie describes a difficult situation with quick cleverness:   Mr. P. grabbed me by the shoulders and leaned so close to me that I could smell his breath.  Onions and garlic and hamburger and shame and pain. (page 42)  Wow.  He says so much in one short sentence.

Junior finds a new friend at his new school, but learning to communicate with nerdy Gordy is a task onto itself:

"A metaphorical boner!" I shouted.  "What the heck is a metaphorical boner?"

Gordy laughed.

"When I say boner, I really mean joy," he said.

"Then why don't you say joy?  You didn't have to say boner.  Whenever I think about boners, I get confused."

"Boner is funnier.  And more joyful."

Gordy and I laughed.

Yes, I suggest this book.  It is a quick and interesting read and a succinct statement on the times in which we live, and the circumstances we shield ourselves from seeing.


One response on “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

  1. Mary C Crawford

    Lots of good YA books out there. One thing that appeals to me is they tend to be shorter (H.P.being an exception!), getting their message across quickly without a lot of filler details ‘adult’ books seem to have.