Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

How a book can be so heart breaking yet hilarious is beyond me but The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie manages to accomplish both wonderfully. I first heard of this book at a Banned Books Week reading at my local indie, Avid Bookshop. When the reader read the first chapter and I instantly thought this would be a great book. I was not wrong. 

The protagonist, Arnold, aka Junior, is a teen aged Spokane Native American. He was born with "too much water on the brain," looks a little odd, is smart, and has more ambition than most of the other people on his reservation. He's an artist and there are some amazing illustrations in this book by Ellen Forney. He just wants more out of life than many of the others seem to have settled for. He is constantly bullied. Before and after he makes the choice to go to school off the rez. He's bullied at his new school, until he stands up for himself. The book paints the picture of extreme poverty on the reservation and that Junior and his family lives in. (I'm always surprised when confronted with how awful the whole Native American population has been treated.)

Junior has to deal with several traumatic events the year he decides to go school off the rez. He loses his friends, nearly loses his tribe, he has three deaths within his family/close family friend circle. But he never gives up, even when it would be super easy to do so.

I thought it was really cool how much the coach's encouragement, "You can do it," meant to Junior. And Junior did mention how him and his dad rarely tell each other they love one another. I think this just goes to show that acknowledgement of love, caring, and even respect can mean to a person, especially a kid. (It really doesn't cost you anything to be nice and encouraging  ya know? That's just my two cents ;-)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has some of the best lines ever in a book. (See my Teaser Tuesday post here for one.) And here's another:

"'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 a**holes and the people who are not.'"

I know I say this about a lot of books but this has to be one of the best books I've read this year. It totally gets 5 out of 5 stars. This book just was the right mix of humor and sadness and left me with a good feeling of full circle-ness.
*Just keep in mind this is written from a 14 year old boys perspective and all that entails.* 

More info on The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from Goodreads.

Also, great choice for this month, since October is ANTI-BULLYING PREVENTION AWARENESS month. I recommend checking out Lady Reader's Bookstuff and Uniquely Moi Books, both blogs have had great info, interviews, books and giveaways all month in honor of Anti-Bullying.

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