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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time…

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (original 2007; edition 2009)

by Sherman Alexie

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6,277573636 (4.34)415
Title:The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Authors:Sherman Alexie
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2009), Edition: Collectors, Hardcover, 272 pages
Collections:Your library, Reviewed
Tags:fiction, reviewed, young adult

Work details

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)

  1. 30
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    A Step From Heaven by An Na (cammykitty)
    cammykitty: Different in feel altogether from Diary, but also another good novel about entering and adjusting to predominantly white-American culture
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» See also 415 mentions

English (568)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (572)
Showing 1-5 of 568 (next | show all)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian tells the story of a high school age, Native American boy who is an excellent student and is advised by one of his teachers to leave the reservation. “You kept your hope. And now, you have to take your hope and go somewhere where other people have hope.” This means leaving his school to attend an all white school. Arnold (or Junior as he is called on the reservation) knows the teacher is right. The reservation school is underfunded and staffed by teachers who have low expectations for their students. So Arnold requests a transfer.

Sherman Alexie's novel takes an interesting approach to Arnold's situation. There are some anecdotes about his problems adjusting to his new school, but after a few uncomfortable situations, the students seem to accept him. The focus for Alexie is more on the reactions of Arnold's friends on the reservation. The students at his former school feel betrayed and sometimes react with violence. The problem with Alexie's choice is that the picture a reader is left with, is that the Native Americans are the ones who can't accept someone who wants to make his own way in life. Alexie must have realized this issue, because he started the Red Versus White chapter with the following excerpt:

You probably think I've completely fallen in love with white people and that I don't see anything good in Indians.

Well, that's false.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a YA book with a great deal to teach its readers about the struggles of Native Americans on reservations in today's world. Some of the issues were ones I was already familiar with, but learned a different perspective. Others were problems I hadn't realized existed.

I think this book would make an excellent source for a classroom study.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | Aug 22, 2015 |
I can say that it was good to have read it. I enjoyed it...I did. It did not live up to my expectations, however. My inner critic would not let me be swept away. I would expect many to admire Alexie's boldness to have a protagonist blatantly talk about masturbation and cuss frequently (for reals), but I didn't like that quality of the narration. I couldn't buy into Junior's character. To me, he wasn't real AT ALL. He is introduced as this kid with all sorts of medical problems: enormous head, clumsy, large feet, stuttering problems, prone to seizures, fragile, etc. I thought he'd be a really interesting character. But he never has a seizure, he's knocked out a few times with no real suspenseful buildup as to how this can damage his "already damaged" brain, he never falls/trips, and never stutters once. In fact, he doesn't have any of the social problems that a student with all of those issues may actually face. He's vaguely popular and loved by all, and again, he never stutters. Did Alexie forget that Junior was a mess? Because he really wasn't. He was just a hero from beginning to end.

Issues of addiction, poverty, death and grief, bulimia, and racism were treated pretty lightly. It never felt real in the way that, say, Richard Wright's Black Boy did. Now THAT book messed me up in an important way. Junior was just an entertaining, likable kid who may be a totally positive role model (sans the cussing) who just shows kids that if one has a positive attitude and perseveres, anything is possible. One just has to leave the reservation and an Indian is just like you and me.

Again, it was an enjoyable read, and I'd like my son to read it when he's 14 (I'd NEVER give this to my students due to language), but I ended up thinking that it was pretty shocking that a book about a kid who has had so much tragedy ensue in a few hundred pages wouldn't even make me FEEL. I didn't cry (and that had been, to date, impossible) and I really didn't care about any of the relationships that were so poorly developed. I barely reacted. Okay....here it is in a nutshell: it wasn't at all DEEP.

That must be my issue.

Glad you all loved it so much, friends, but I don't think this will change anyone's world view. At best, it will entertain and make young adults aware that there are some problems on Indian reservations, but unfortunately, they will also think that those problems could be easily solved (no biggy) if the Indians had more desire to leave. ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 10, 2015 |
Junior realizes that his only chance to get away from the Spokane Indian Reservation he and his family live on is the hope for a better education. He avoids the of harsh destiny that befalls his friends and family by enrolling in the local all-white high school. There he struggles with the same issues his awkwardness triggered at his home high school, but as he overcomes his challenges through unlikely friendships and his powerful 3-point shots on the basketball court. Through Ellen Forney’s cartoon-style artwork and Alexie’s dark humor Junior clumsily navigates through the two worlds he inhabits. Readers who appreciate the perspective of the cultural outsider and the physical underdog will cheer for Junior’s successes and cringe at Junior’s misadventures as they identify with the Junior within themselves. ( )
  MzzColby | Aug 7, 2015 |
Recommended by: Jennifer
  Yvonne_Chesak | Jul 31, 2015 |
Pair with "Brown Girl Dreaming," "Inside out and Back Again." ( )
  nickietravis | Jul 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 568 (next | show all)
Working in the voice of a 14-year-old forces Alexie to strip everything down to action and emotion, so that reading becomes more like listening to your smart, funny best friend recount his day while waiting after school for a ride home.

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sherman Alexieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Forney, EllenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There is another world, but it is in this one. --W.B. Yeats
For Wellpinit and Reardon, my hometowns
First words
I was born with water on the brain. Okay, so that's not exactly true. I was actually born with too much cerebral spinal fluid inside my skull. But cerebral spinal fluid is just the doctors' fancy way of saying brain grease.
"No, I'm serious. I always knew you were going to leave. I always knew you were going to leave us behind and travel the world. I had this dream about you a few months ago. You were standing on the Great Wall of China. You looked happy. And I was happy for you."
During one week when I was little, Dad got stopped three times for DWI: Driving While Indian.
“Son,” Mr. P. said. “You’re going to find more and more hope the farther and farther you walk away from this sad, sad, sad reservation.”
I'd always been the lowest Indian on the reservation totem pole-- I wasn't expected to be good so I wasn't. But in Reardan, my coach and the other players wanted me to be good. They needed me to be good. They expected me to be good. And so I became good.
"I used to think the world was broken down by tribes," I said. "By black and white. By Indian and white. But I know that isn't true. The world is only broken into two tribes. The people who are assholes and the people who are not."
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Book description
Jr is struggling with being a poor Indian. He is given the opportunity to leave the reservation and start a new life outside of the Native American culture. And thus the story goes from chapter to chapter. This books crosses cultures of the Native American and Reardan, a white/christian culture in a rural setting. This story can be used on many fronts in a classroom. Racism, culture boundaries, friendship(Rowdy, Penelope), and having the ability to change your life. A great story with a lot of possibilities in a classroom.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316013692, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:14 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

(summary from another edition)

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