Skip to main content

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I'm so glad I finally got around to this one. The laughs were much needed. Of course, there were bouts of tears to go along with those laughs, so it probably evened out in the end. But that is the mark of the best kind of story. It made me feel genuine emotion, and not all one kind, so I feel fulfilled and stretched out, rather than left wondering if I'll ever be able to crawl my way up out of the hole. 

Junior's life is unenviable. And that is putting it mildly. He lives on the Indian reservation in Wellpinit, Washington with his parents (part to full time alcoholics), his sister (a depressed basement dweller), and his grandmother (the one functional member of the family). He also has a best friend called Rowdy, a young man whose father beats him and who, in turn, beats up everyone in his path. Except Junior. When we first meet him, Junior is excited to begin his first day of high school. A self-proclaimed nerd of the highest order, Junior eagerly opens his geometry book only to find his mother's name inscribed inside the cover. That's right. This is the same geometry book his mother used when she was a freshman in high school. Junior is filled with such hopeless rage that he chucks the book at his teacher, earning himself a suspension. But after a conversation with his teacher, he sets out on a quest for hope, resolving to transfer to the local white school in Reardan. 

I loved this book for so many reasons. I loved it for the humor, dialogue, and artwork. But also for the ache it gave me in the back of my throat when I imagined a life like Junior's. This is my second encounter with Sherman Alexie's work. Awhile back I watched and loved Smoke Signals and that came back to haunt me (in a good way) so many times that I was eager for more. This book is semi-autobiographical and that thought alone kept my emotions very close to the surface throughout the reading. The obvious and favorable comparisons to John Green and Chris Crutcher are certainly valid and definite indicators of whether or not you will like the book. But it's worth mentioning that The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian also reminded me of the tough, direct prose found in My Heartbeat and the throbbing longing of I am the MessengerIf any of this sounds like your cuppa, I'd add this one to your stack posthaste. 

Comments

  1. I enjoyed it, but I didn't LOVE it. It was a clever and fun book, though, with some good social commentary that didn't feel heavy handed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Not my usual sort of read but it sounds really interesting and entertaining. I'll have to seek it out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous7:44 PM

    A long time ago I read The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, and it remains the only piece of Alexie's work I've read. With the consistently good feedback on this one, though, I'll need to amend that. Your mention of I Am the Messenger intrigued me as well, and, after reading the synopsis, it looks like that one's going to be a must read, too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Janssen, I agree. I appreciated the light touch he maintained throughout.

    Hagelrat, I think it would make a good introduction to Alexie's work.

    Chelle, I cannot say enough good about I am the Messenger. Zusak is the man.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

You Might Also Like

Interview with Alexandra Bracken + Brightly Woven Giveaway!

I fell in love with the cover of Alexandra Bracken 's debut novel-- Brightly Woven --last fall and the scant synopses I could find at the time certainly piqued my interest. After managing to get my hands on an ARC, I found myself surprised and pleased with this unique fantasy. You can read my review here . As the release date approached, I invited Alex to participate in an interview and giveaway here on the site and, despite her crazy busy schedule, she kindly accepted. Enjoy! First things first: When did the idea for Brightly Woven first hit you and what (if anything) did you know right off the bat? I remember the exact moment it hit me—what I was doing, who I was talking to, what song was playing on iTunes.  :)  I had just come back from Winter Break my sophomore year in college and was sitting on my bed chatting with my mom.  Sophomore year was pretty remarkable in terms of the insane weather that we had in Virginia (where I was in school) but it had also been a bizarre year in

Interview with Diana Peterfreund + Rampant Giveaway!

Ever since I fell in love with Diana Peterfreund 's Secret Society Girl series last year, I've been hoping I'd get the chance to interview her here. Tomorrow marks the release of her new novel, Rampant , and let me tell you that you have not read a book like this before. You can read my review here , but all you really need to know is that it's a story about killer unicorns and the young women who hunt them. You want to read it now, don't you? Oh, yeah, and it's YA and the first in a series! To celebrate the release, Diana graciously answered a few of my most burning questions. As she is always a delight, I know you'll enjoy them as much as I did. First things first: When did the idea for Rampant first hit you and what (if anything) did you know right off the bat? In early 2005, just after selling Secret Society Girl , I had this dream of being chased by a very dangerous unicorn. I woke up and went to go look it up to see if I could figure out the meani

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater, Review + Giveaway!

It seems a long time ago now that I first read Shiver -- the first book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. But looking back I started it on the plane ride to BEA and finished it there in the conference center, fingers gripping the cover tightly, while sitting on the floor in one of the many autograph lines. And now it's May again and BEA is right around the corner and I emerge from my recent and nasty reading slump stupor to find a copy of Linger sitting in my mailbox like a glove thrown down in the dirt. "I will be the one to pull you out," it whispers to me slyly. "Just open me up and take a sip. I promise--one sip is all it will take." And I look at it with fear and longing written all over my face. "You promise?" I ask  intently. "Because it's been a long walk in the cold and I'm not sure I can take another disappointment." "Just open me up," it says, confidence written all over its cover. And so I do. And everythin