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

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Humour, Coming of Age
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 12th 2007

4 OUT OF 5 STARS

“Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community.”

Junior loves drawing comics. He draws to understand the world, and because he wants the world to notice him. It’s pretty obvious that as long as he stays on the Spokane Indian reserve that isn’t going to happen. In order to follow his dreams Junior transfers to Rearden, a high school that is twenty-two miles away and all white. A coming of age story seen through the eyes of a native american boy with a foot in both worlds.

The writing style and illustrations work quite well together. Alexie has mastered writing in the voice of a young teenage boy, which leads to both hilarious and occasionally annoying writing. Forney’s art incorporates several different styles and really adds to Junior’s characterization.

The book is both hilarious and at times tragic. The narration style does unfortunately rob some of the tragedies of their full potential impact – but it keeps the book light and fun. It could easily be read in one sitting, it has the sort of casual feel of listening to a friend tell a story. It was definitely the right voice for the book, however it can be grating if you’re not in the mood.

This book has a unique story to tell, and there’s a lot of good in it. It’s a book I absolutely loved reading. It offered a window into the lives of poor and/or alcoholic families living on reservations and how one boy tried to escape the cycle. The characters all feel like real people but at the same time there’s not much to them. They feel real because most of them are given so few traits it’s easy to project. Also, as mentioned above, the many serious issues and tragedies lost much of their force through the narration style.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is not a perfect book, but it’s definitely a GOOD one. It’s a fun and easy read with all the ups and downs you’ve learned to expect from a coming of age story along with some brand new elements.

BUY THE BOOK

Read this if you’re a fan of: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

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