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

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian will make you think more about other cultures and make you remember your own high school traumas…in a good way :)

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

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the absolutely true diary of a part time indian sherman alexie book review

Title & Author: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary, Coming of Age

Release Date: September 12, 2007

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

How I Got the Book: ARC from Publisher

Description:

“In his first book for young adults, bestselling author 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 by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, 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 was destined to live.”

Simple Language, Big Issues

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a one-of-a-kind look at life inside (and outside) a Native American reservation. The author, Sherman Alexie, is himself a Native American and has said this book was semi auto-biographical.

I’d say it’s more than “semi,” but knowing his history and background made a huge difference while reading it. This is a story of change and loss and becoming who you’re meant to me.

It’s told from the perspective of high school freshman Junior. The language of the story is very simplistic. It reads like a diary, which it is in a way. And, it’s a little over 250 pages, so a very quick read.

Even though the way it’s written is very easy-to-read, the storyline is full of really big, tough issues like alcoholism and death. I loved how Alexie approached these topics – with honesty and no quick solutions.

I appreciated that he was unafraid to tackle things in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian that one might guess he experienced firsthand. Like facing down a community who doesn’t want you to leave and takes your leaving as a betrayal.

As I read this book, I kept thinking that no one else could have told this story except Junior/Sherman Alexie. No one else could have talked about life in a reservation except someone who’s lived it, and it made me appreciate his journey and what it took to for him to make it.

There is definitely some content in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian that I would encourage parents to consider before letting their teen read it. That being said, I think this book’s rawness will really resonate with teens. I would just be advised before gifting this book unknowingly.

Bonus: Junior draws to express himself and the doodles are included in the book. I read the novel on my Kindle, so the text on some drawings was hard to read but overall it was fine. I loved the addition of the images because it adds another dimension to the mind of a teenaged boy.

I actually read Alexie’s Reservation Blues in a Native America Lit class in college. It’s a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something similar to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

OVERALL:

This is a book I would have loved to have read in high school. It’s eye-opening and raw. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian will expose you to a culture not often highlighted in literature, and to a young boy’s experience that is totally and endearingly relatable.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Linda P

    This is on my tbr list. I’m hoping I can read it this year.

  • Pamela Wright

    Love the new look! Yah!

  • Rhoda Austin

    When I finished reading, I didn’t
    know what to say-so much so that I wanted to immediately re-read it.
    (It’s the kind of book that you can do that with.) I think that’s the
    best response you can have to a book: when it’s so good it leaves you
    speechless.

    Rhoda
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