Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The
Arnold Spirit Jr., better known as Junior, is the heart of this coming of age story that will tug at the heartstrings of anyone who has ever known that to truly be yourself, you might have to separate a little bit from the people and places that have made you who you are. It's an important historical lesson in what the US has done to the true Americans, has wonderful illustrations and is written in a very original voice that won't soon be forgotten. The story of a smart young man taking his first steps into the wider world and all of the invisible strings that make growing into ones true self difficult.
I did not like this book much. I enjoyed the beginning and the story of this boy who was a native american who had a teacher who finally told him that he deserved better than the school was giving him and to get out. I was totally hooked and into the story and where this boy was going to go. But then it was just another stupid teenager story of going to high school and fitting in. Lame. Nothing really special happened once he went to his new school and while I understand this was a true story, I don't know if it deserves all of the hype it has been given.
I would recommend this book for students who are into these types of "fitting in" books. There is a lot of figuring out who you are, how to cope with bullies, how to accept friend changes, and how to deal with growing up. HOWEVER there was also some inappropriate comments that the main character would make about more mature content that some younger kids might not know about yet or might not understand so use caution there.
While attending a local book fair at an elementary school, one of the workers recommended the book, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part- Time Indian". Since the book received the National Book Award, I figured it was worth giving the book a shot! At first, I enjoyed the content but once I was halfway done with the book I began to lose interest. It is not a book I would read with my elementary school students due to the strong realistic content. It has real world issues, such as poverty, alcoholism, abuse and senseless death. A few of these topics can be sensitive to different families and in today's world, we teachers must be careful in how we are discussing them. However, the book does have some humor and definitely touches upon important issues so I think this book is a better independent read for a young adult.
The main character, Arnold Spirit, Jr. was a character based off of the author, Sherman Alexie’s life. The author mentioned many difficulties he faced as a teenage Indian boy through his fictional character. Arnold Spirit was a teenage Indian who grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wllpinit, WA. Other than dealing with the usual coming of age drama, Arnold was a hydrocephalic, with also a stuttering problem and a lisp. Due to these conditions, he was bullied many times by the kids in his reservation. He also dealt with the constant issue of being viciously beaten up. Therefore, Arnold wanted an out and figured the only way to be free from the bullying was to leave the reservation and attend a white school miles away. His decision to leave caused the reservation to look at him as a traitor. With all of the struggles he dealt with in the book, Arnold was forced to create a new identity, in hopes of having a fresh start.
The author included many realistic views of the reservation in order for the reader to put themselves in Arnold's shoes. The author also did a great job of showing how the beautiful the reservation can be, as well as the destruction that can take place.
"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" has been on the banned books list in one of the top five spots since it was published. It is an excellent book for teachers to read in their spare time and with their students. I really enjoyed how fast pace this book moves through Junior's life and how he makes difficult choices. The book also touches on many issues that face Native Americans on their reservations such as alcoholism, poverty, lack of education, and the pressure to stay on the rez. Junior makes the bold move to go to a white school and becomes an outcast in his new school as well as his old community. It shows the difficulty to adjust to a new situation that most teens can relate to. I really like using this book in the classroom because it is written as if it were Junior's diary and includes his doodles. It shows students some history behind Native American culture and the very real issues they still experience today. I dislike that the book turns into a basketball book. Junior eventually becomes the basketball star at his new school. It is no longer about getting a better education or making more of himself.