A review of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
I’ve mentioned before that I appreciate a good ending in my books. This one has a great one, just saying.
And why not? Alexie is a great writer. I remember reading a story of his in an undergrad writing class and being totally depressed. No way would I ever write anything that good. I’ve heard teachers use some of his shorts in language arts classes and they work really well even though they weren’t written for YA audience. But he writes honestly about growing up which is refreshing. So I was interested to read his latest title which is intended for YA audiences. I won’t lie, first few pages I was rolling my eyes. No way I thought would any 14 year-old be this self-aware and articulate about it. I wasn’t buying Junior as a character. Then I finished the first chapter and it was over, I was in. Alexie makes you be in Juniors world as much as you are in his head, almost forces you. It’s an aggressive book that makes you squirm a little. Forget any romantic or mystical preconceived notion you may have about modern life for American Indians. No choice is easy for Junior, to stay on the rez or to go to the white school, to be apart of the tribe and a way of life that may kill him or betray his family, his friend and get out. As a reader you do not get an easy ride either. It’s heartbreaking because its a world you can’t completely understand, being an outsider, but you know is real. Alexie presents many problems and shows there is no right solution, no answers. It’s devastating a little, but there is hope (see opening line).
Totally Awesome. Really cannot recommend this book more. It’s been added to my list of YA books that should be required reading for adults too. Awesome.
There are also illustrations and drawings sprinkled through the book. Junior is an avid drawer so we get to see some of his cartoons and pictures. Just like we get to see the picture of his world.