This weekend I finally read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, after hearing great things about it for almost a year.
I now understand one big reason why this is a YA book and not a kid’s book: cussing. There’s a decent amount of swearing in this book. There are many other reasons too. The main character, Junior, is a 14 year old boy, and despite being incredibly unique, he’s still dealing with all of the troubles every typical 14 boy is dealing with.
The story follows Junior as he decides that he doesn’t want to fall into the same life as his parents and everyone in his Indian reservation; he wants more. The event that sets him off is when he attends his first high school geometry class and his mother’s name is written in his book…the geometry books at the reservation’s school are 30 years old. He decides to do what no one on the Rez has ever done: leave the Rez for school. He starts attending the white school 20 miles away, and where he is both the poorest kid and the only Indian. He really is the most unlikely of heroes (he also has a number of health problems – born with water on the brain) but that just makes him all the more endearing.
Pictures and drawings are a big part of the book, Junior draws cartoons to deal with difficult things in his life. They are charming and work well with the text.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian lives up to all the good attention it has received. It’s interesting, and great fun, for teens and adults.
“It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you’re poor because you’re stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you’re stupid and ugly because you’re Indian. And because you’re Indian you start believing you’re destined to be poor. It’s an ugly circle and there’s nothing you can do about it.” – Junior
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