Sunday, January 22, 2012


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie

Grade: A+

Description from
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.

My thoughts on the book:
Sherman Alexie is one of the greatest authors of all time. Let me explain this. He has the ability to speak TO YOU through his words. Every time I read one of his books, I feel like he's talking to me and telling me his life story. His writing always sucks me in from the first page. I always laugh and cry, because let's face it, he's funny, but the stories themselves are heartbreaking, and there is no doubt in my mind that the stories he tells are at least inspired by true events, and that breaks my heart even more. Alexie's unique voice, sarcastic sense of humor, and well-developed, unique cast of characters add to his engrossing plots to make unforgettable books. True Diary is no exception to that. 

True Diary is told from Junior's POV, and you can't help but feel sympathy for Junior right away. He was born with water on the brain, after all, and that's enough to make anyone feel bad for you... or call you names, depending on if you're in high school or not. Ahh the best years of your life, high school is not. Junior tells a story of poverty, heartbreak, love, and loss. He explains life on the reservation and lets people know that it's not anything like most people would expect. Junior's story is an inspiration to all of us, regardless of our backgrounds, because he never lets anything get him down. He fights for himself, for an education, and for a life. That sets him apart from the others on the reservation, and they judge him even more because he has ambitions. But Junior doesn't give up... he never gives up. 

Junior gets angry because his reservation school textbook is over 30 years old. He throws the book and gets suspended. The teacher isn't mad at him, however, and after giving Junior a pep talk, Junior decides to go to an all white high school so that he can actually get a good education. Junior's parents are too poor to get him there on most days, though, and he ends up walking over 20 miles there and 20 miles back just to get an education. His best friend from the reservation, Rowdy, hates him for leaving, and Junior feels all alone in this new world. 

At the white high school, Junior experiences blatant racism from the students, but he quickly shows them that he won't take their crap, and he actually makes some really good friends. He tries to hide how poor he is, but they find out. Instead of judging him, they try to help him. Throughout the novel Junior evolves, and the reader goes on this emotional journey of growing up with him. You can't help but root for Junior, and when things go wrong, you cry for him. The book isn't too serious, though, because Alexie is wonderfully sarcastic. I was torn between laughing and crying throughout the whole novel. 

Every single character in the book is well-developed. There are no cookie-cutter types... at least not from my perspective. Everyone is dynamic and unpredictable. Alexie does a terrific job of showing that no one's life is what it seems. There are many surprises, both good and bad in this novel. Nothing is straight-forward because people's lives aren't straight-forward. We're all complicated, and it's clear that Alexie understands that. 

The pacing of the book is excellent, and there isn't a single dull moment. There are a lot of events that happen throughout the novel to keep the reader engaged, and when something tragic or hilarious isn't happening, then Junior is drawing cartoons of how he sees things, which is pretty funny. I really loved the addition of the drawings to the text. It made the book that much richer. 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a book that you do not want to miss. If you haven't read the novel yet, then you are missing out. If you've never read anything by Sherman Alexie before, then I am sad for you. You  must get this book. You must read it now. 

What are you waiting for? Buy the book!


  1. I've read and loved some Sherman Alexie myself! I'm taking a literature class this semester called "The Native American Experience". Two of the books we're going to read are by Sherman Alexie and this is one of them! I'm very excited for the class!

    1. Awesome! That sounds like a cool class. Where do you go to school? I'm an American Indian Studies major at UNC, and we read this in Native American History for the 20th Century part of the class. It was my favorite book of the entire semester! Are you reading any Vine Deloria for the class?

    2. I go to school at Pace University in NY. I'm an English & Communications major and needed another class towards my major electives so I picked this one. We actually have a new professor for the class because the original one has to take the semester off. So originally we weren't reading any Vine Deloria but our new prof is adding books to the list so we may be now. I've never heard of Vine Deloria.
      By the way, that sounds like a very interesting major. We've got nothing like that at Pace lol.

    3. Cool. Vine Deloria was a pretty influential Lakota author. However, he didn't write fiction, so I'll bet that you won't be reading him. His most famous book is called CUSTER DIED FOR YOUR SINS. I love the title, hahaha. Anyway, yea I LOVE my major! That's one of the reasons I came all the way to UNC from Chicago. UNC is one of the few schools that offers American Indian Studies. :D Let me know what other authors you're reading. I'd like to check out more Native American literature.

    4. Other than Sherman Alexie, we'll be reading work from Linda Hogan, Kent Nerburn, N. Scott Momaday and Amy Krout-Horn.

      And it's possible we may read Vine Deloria. It's a literature class, it's not focused on only fiction. The book we're reading by Amy Krout-Horn is a memior. It's called My Father's Blood.

      And the new prof said he's adding authors to our reading list, so you never know. ;)

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  3. ok I give in....I am going to read this Everyone seems to love it, so I am going to put it on my list to read in the very near future. :D Thanks for the awesome review!

    1. Yay! I know you'll love it! It's amazing! :D Let me know what you think once you read it.

  4. I read this by chance over this past summer, unaware of how great of a writer Alexie is. I absolutely adored it, and this review covered everything I loved about it! :D


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