Friday, July 16, 2010
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie
Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2007
Length: 230 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Realistic Fiction
Started: July 15, 2010
Finished: July 15, 2010
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.
14-year-old Arnold Spirit (aka Junior), isn't the luckiest person in the world, let alone the Spokane Reservation. Born with hydrocephaly and a host of other medical problems, he's at the bottom of the totem pole at his reservation school (excuse the really bad pun). After realizing that his current situation won't allow him a better life than his family or the rest of the people living on the reservation, he decides to go to school off the reservation and risks alienating himself even more. But he's determined to grow up with hope for something better, and you can't help but cheer for the little guy.
The book is colloquial but extremely poetic, the language of this book is certainly the high point in addition to the illustrations. I didn't even realize there were little doodles and cartoons interspersed until I got a few pages in, which immediately made me think of a sophisticated version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I was so immersed in it I read it in one day in various sittings (I had a lot going on that day). You feel so much for Junior/Arnold, I laughed my head off when he handled his family's poverty and alcoholism with a sense of humour, and I cried for him when the same alcoholism led to tragedy. When you think about it, he perseveres through so much, you forget that the kid's only 14 but has an amazing outlook on things.
The artwork adds a wonderful dimension to the novel, the writing is amazing, the plot is engaging, the characters are lovable, this is book that defies description, you just gotta read it.
This book is a gem, read this!
Thoughts on the cover:
Considering that there's not many things that you could really put on the cover of a book like this, they did it really well. The little cowboy and indian figurines remind us of the whole racial dichotomy that runs throughout the book.