The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indianby Published 12 Sep 2007
|The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.pdf|
|Publisher||Little, Brown Books for Young Readers|
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 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.
With a forward by Markus Zusak, interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney, and four-color interior art throughout, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike.
"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" Reviews
"Everyone on the rez calls me a retard about twice a day. They call me a retard when they are pantsing me or stuffing my head in the toilet or just smacking me upside the head."
"Do you know what happens to retards on the rez?
"We get beat up".
"At least one a month"
"Yep, I belong to the Black-Eye-of-the-Month-Club".
When you're 14 year old and treated like a leper....as much as being outdoors is where every kid wants to be....staying indoors feels safer. So, mostly Arnold Junior Spirit
hangs out alone in his bedroom and reads books and draws cartoons. He draws everyone around him: his mom, dad, sister, grandmother, and best friend, Rowdy.
Junior had felt like an outcast from as far back as he could remember within his own tribe -- starting with some medical problems.
When he leaves the Spokane Indian reservation to attend an all-white-school 22 miles away-- he is still an outcast. To choose not to drink alcohol or live a life of poverty is going against the grain on the reservation. To be happy and successful feels threatening to
his friends back home.
Being the only Native American in an 'all-white' school also has its challenges.
Plus.....dealing with deep personal loss and grief - on top of the normal hardships of parents who drink too much - some parents hit their kids - bullying - best friends break off: devastating.....but find the power to forgive: healing!!!.....
but also real painful loss: death - a wasteful death--- MY GOD.....you just want to CRY YOUR EYES OUT! Junior did! I did too!
At the same time -- through the sadness & tears ---Junior inspires us with his Humor and strength. A few great laughs!!!!
Junior is one of the bravest and most courageous young men I've ever met through ANY NOVEL in my LIFE. Is it possible to love a 14 year old boy ( character) more???
And.... it goes without saying..... whew, (my own tears just keep on coming)....
That Sherman Alexie is a BEAUTIFUL MAN!!!! His contributions have been HUGE!!!!
I've heard Alexie speak a few times.... ( in Berkeley last summer).... and every time I've heard him speak -- I always come away feeling INSPIRED - MOVED .....
THE MAN is LOVE & REAL. His contributions have come from his passions and love.
I heard him talk about how excruciating-hard - painful it was to write this book ....facing the old demons - emotions - from his childhood. This IS a NOVEL......but only Alexie could have written it.
A very special Thank You for my 'special' SIGNED COPY ...hard copy of this book by a group of very special friends in San Francisco--( they know who they are): THANK YOU with all my heart for this book. Their gift is very special ....with great memories!!!
I put off reading it for almost a year - because I knew I was going to cry. I did - couldn't be avoided!!!
Should be required reading-- not banned! lol. But....#1 banned books in the United States was 'kinda' cool - too! Funny anyway!!!! Got more people interested!!!!
This book has sort of been on my radar, and yesterday I saw it on one of my student's desk. I excitedly asked him what he thought of it, and his face lit up. He told me he had just finished it and repeated, "It was a really good book" about three times, with the most genuine smile I've seen from this kid all year. When I told him it was on my list of books I wanted to read, he handed it to me and said, "take it." Huh? Then he showed me the sticker on the front cover that said, "FREE BOOK! Read and Release." He shrugged his shoulders and said, "I'm supposed to pass it on." As it turns out, there is a "Whatcom Reads" program, and this title is circulating throughout the county. The whole idea is that you read it and pass it, and I had the good fortune of being handed this beautiful book. (The fact that one of my students "passed" it makes it that much cooler.) I sat down on my couch tonight and laughed and cried and wished there was someone here (besides the cats) to share it with. I thought it was amazing.
Sooo... what do I know about Indians (aka Native Americans)? Well, apparently the average white American knows very little about them and, whether that's true or not, I can confirm that the average Brit knows NOTHING about them. That would include me. Or it would have included me before I read this book.
Okay, well maybe not nothing, I knew they can paint with all the colours of the wind, right?
Actually, on a serious note, this is honestly where my previous knowledge of Native Americans comes from:
I kid you not. And yes I know that this is: a) a Disney film, and b) set several centuries ago.
But this book was one of the biggest eye-openers ever. A very funny, kinda sad, eye-opening experience. You see, Arnold Spirit was born on an Indian reservation and raised amongst Indians and educated in Indian schools... and his life really just sucks. Big time. If the author didn't carry this story off with such witty humour, it would simply be a FML rant about poverty, death, alcoholism, abusive parents and just the sense that Hope is not even living in the same dimension as Native Americans.
The fact that all the book covers for this are incredibly childish is very misleading. It becomes apparent when you're reading it that the cover is a picture of Arnold's doodles that he does to entertain himself and to avoid going completely insane... but this is not a kid's book. In fact, I think it will be much more appreciated by the older end of the young adult audience and, of course, adults themselves. It's an education as well as an entertaining story.
I suppose that ultimately this book is about overcoming obstacles and finding hope in the darkest places (I obviously should write cheesy taglines for a living), or even just a bit of humour.
Confession time: I’ve been a bit of a snob when it comes to YA literature. The idea that this type of writing was beneath me, not able to give me what I wanted from a story were my main excuses. I’m not going to say that YA fiction is ever going to replace “literary” adult fiction, but I will say that it has opened my eyes. THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN is a magnificent read. The story centers around Junior, a Spokane Indian, and his family who live on a reservation. To be honest, I was leery coming into this book. I had read FLIGHT and RESERVATION BLUES and INDIAN KILLER and THE LONE RANGER AND TONTO FISTFIGHT IN HEAVEN, and I was expecting little from this book. Mainly I read it because it won the National Book Award. But Sherman Alexie makes a very straightforward narrative electrifying. Being a South Dakotan, I understand the tenuous relationship between Whites and Native Americans, and to think that I would be moved by a Spokane Indian was never really plausible in my mind. Alexie moved me. His words and ideas and descriptions gave me an insight that I previously lacked. Reading Junior’s story gave me the chance to see what it is like to know as a young person what your future will hold if raised on a reservation. The word bleak does not adequately describe these people’s futures; it is much darker than that. But Alexie doesn’t just paint a grim picture of reservation life; he also illuminates the aspects of life that should be cherished within all colors: family and hope. Junior doesn’t have a lot of hope, at first. But as the story progresses, his family provides him with the needed hope to see that the borders of the reservation are meant to be broken, that it is okay to explore life without knowing what the outcome is going to be. At times hilarious, heart-wrenching, and provocative, this quick read is anything but simple. Well, done, Mr. Alexie, well done. (Plus, who doesn’t like reading about basketball every once in awhile in a novel?)
You can credit Junior with this much; he's not a complainer. Not really. I mean, sure he was born with an enormous head, gigantic feet, crazy eyes, ten more teeth than normal, a stutter, and a lisp . . . . but hey, have you ever seen the guy's cartoons? They're great! Junior isn't the most popular kid on his reservation but he does all right. That is, until the day he snaps after finding his mother's maiden name in an old junky geometry book. Oddly, the teacher he lobs the book in the face of isn't angry. He just tells Junior in no uncertain terms that it would be in his own best interest to leave the reservation. Some way, somehow, he has to get off and make something of himself. Junior's no fool. He's perfectly aware that leaving the rez will be seen as some kind of a betrayal to his friends and neighbors, but the next thing you know he's applied to Reardan. Reardan is a rich, white school where the only Indian is the school mascot. Joining Reardan means that Junior has figure out what he wants from the world, what he needs from his family, and what he should do with his life.
As for the writing, it's top notch. This kind of subject matter requires a seemingly effortless mixture of laughter and tears. Sherman Alexie manages to deliver this, so that a funeral for Junior's grandmother is just as full of outright guffaws as it is pain and distress. Alexie also knows how to wield a delightful one-liner. "PCs are like French people living during the bubonic plague." Or about a bulimic girl who tries to cover it up the odor with gum, "She just smells like somebody vomited on a big old cinnamon tree." Finally, when Junior talks about cartooning as an art, he isn't dinking around. I enjoyed the section where he explained that "If you speak and write in English, or Spanish, or Chinese, or any other language, then only a certain percentage of human beings will get your meaning. But when you draw a picture, everybody can understand it."
Since Part-Time Indian received the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, it has gotten its own fair share of attention. This is great since I felt that cartoonist Ellen Forney clearly needs as much of it as she can get. Forney has created the cartoons that appear throughout Part-Time Indian, charged with the task of making them seem as though they are from the pen of Junior himself. Alexie reportedly requested Ms. Forney specifically for this book. She's not the first cartoonist to come to mind when you picture adolescent teen boy suffering, but credit Alexie for his insight. Somehow her unabashed sexuality and love of the funny works when you tone it down just right. She's definitely reigned in her wilder tendencies (a quick glance at her book I Love Led Zeppelin will confirm this) but she's managed to do it without stifling herself or her natural talent. Who knew she could even draw happy pegasuses and smiley clouds? Not me. I also appreciated the subtlety in some of her cartoons. At one point we look at an image of Junior's best friend Rowdy as he's reading his comic books. In the picture Junior has drawn a big angry face yelling, "What're you drawing??" with the explanation, "Rowdy . . . He hates it when I draw him! Never lets me finish." If you look at the picture carefully, though, you can see the outlines of Rowdy's real features hidden beneath the cartoony angry face.
I may as well just start lobbing this book at the heads of the teens I see entering my library. Anything to get them awake and noticing its existence. My objections are few and my praise strong and clear. A great title and well worth the hype it has been receiving. Go forth, my children, and read it all up. You'll feel better after you do.