Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The

Sherman Alexie
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. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Alexie's YA debut, released in hardcover to instant success, recieving seven starred reviews, hitting numerous bestseller lists, and winning the 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2021-10-12
Excellent book. It makes you appreciate the opportunities you have in life, and feel somewhat ashamed for the ones you've squandered.
Reviewed: 2021-04-07

Trigger Warnings: Alcoholism, Death, Slurs (homophobic/racist/r-word)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian follows Spokane Indian, Junior/Arnold, a budding cartoonist who is determined to take his life in his own hands and not end up getting sucked in a stuck at his Reservation. So, Junior transfers from his troubled, low funded school on the rez to an all-white, farm town high school. Now, everyone on the rez looks at Junior as a traitor who abandoned his people, and everyone at his new school act as if they're afraid of him. Written based on the author's own experiences and paired with drawings by Ellen Forney, this novel shows the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from a life full of heartbreak and grief.

This is another book my boyfriend recommended that I read and so, of course, I very well enjoyed it. My best friend in middle school was Native American and I remember some of the issues and concerns that Junior brings up were subjects she mentioned as well (alcoholism being one I remember the most).

I liked the voice of Junior. Sometimes he was a bit cringey, but he was a teenage boy so I almost kind of expected it. He was honest and brought to light a few things that I know many people don't like to think a young teenager is going to think about, yet alone write/talk about it, so I can see why it gets challenged or banned a lot. But it happens! Young folks have to grow up a lot faster than most people like to think they do. Junior was one of them. He brought up a lot of points about Native Americans that many people don't know, and honestly, probably don't want to think about - mainly because they don't want to look at the privileges they might have. At one point of the story, Junior brings up the amount of funerals he's gone to in his lifetime and compares it to those his white friends have gone to. It's an eye opener for sure!

This book deals with a lot! Some dark and serious subjects are told but they all had just a little bit of a humorous touch (usually a cartoon) that it balanced the mood a bit without taking away from the grave scene.

I feel like it's definitely meant for the older teen audience, but that's not to say a younger teen couldn't read it, there would probably just need to be a discussion during or afterwards about it.

Reviewed: 2019-02-24

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.

Reviewed: 2018-08-04
I had heard amazing things about this book, but nothing specific about it, just that it was good. I had read flight a week or so before this and that was the only other thing I'd read by Sherman Alexie. I see why no one really says specifics about this book- it's very difficult to explain. Suffice it to say that I put this book on my classroom library wishlist before I'd even finished reading it.
Reviewed: 2018-04-27

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Reviewed: 2016-10-02

"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.

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