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

  Reviews by Amanda and Linda

Title:  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Author:  Sherman Alexie;  art by Ellen Forney

Collection:  Teen Books


Amanda’s Review:

It’s easy to see why Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was chosen as the 2011 One Maryland, One Book selection. It is an underdog story of humor, strength, and ultimately hope for a teenage boy struggling to find his place in a divided world. Junior, a young teenager living on the Spokane Indian Reservation, has made the understandably difficult decision to leave the “rez” to attend an all-white high school some twenty miles from his home in order to escape the hopeless, impoverished lifestyle of his family and friends who have never left the reservation. Based on Sherman Alexie’s own experiences as a teenager, this novel will have you laughing, crying, and cheering as Junior depicts his ups and downs in conservational teenage prose and comical artwork. Junior, in all of his calamitous teenage glory,  is both endearing and inspiring in his constant efforts to fight through a life filled with hardship, tragedy, and prejudice to find the joy, respect, and love that he most certainly deserves.

Linda’s Review:

Though I’ve been told this New York Times Bestseller & National Book Award Winner, is a man’s book, it’s filled with humor, especially that of a 14-year-old boy learning to be a man, getting real, many women will relate to this story of amazing love. Despite the main character’s not being a devastatingly handsome man rescuing a damsel in distress.  Junior is however brave & heroic –gallant, honorable, whose actions towards women are refreshing –his rescuing himself –is model behavior anyone can learn from.

Why do I call this an “amazing” love story?  Loving people who let you down isn’t easy; Junior has an amazing ability to recognize that kind of love, and to successfully keep it in his life while moving on to improve his own living conditions.

It is an easy read, straightforwardly written for young adults. It is a book chosen by One Maryland One Book because of its ability to elicit opinions from readers on issues and themes that Junior encounters growing up Indian. It took me a few pages to get into the writing style; but having finished reading the book, I congratulate the OMOB selection committee for finding a book that really gets to the point on issues, issues affecting those on the Spokane Indian Reservation as well as residents of Allegany County.

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