Tuesday, February 28, 2012

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

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Length: audio book: 5 hours
Rating: 4.5/5

Born dirt-poor on the Spokane Indian reservation with water on the brain, Arnold “Junior” Spirit emerges disadvantaged. But despite his alcoholic parents, recluse sister, violent best friend, and lopsided body used as target practice for many feet, this book-loving, comic-drawing narrator refuses to give up on his sizable dreams. He realizes that he can only fulfill his dreams if he leaves the reservation, so he transfers to Reardan High School, where he is the only non-white kid, and in doing so, becomes the most hated person on the rez.

Hearing all sorts of good reviews about this book, I picked it up in audio form for a road trip. You may remember that I usually dislike audio books, but this one was wonderful! The semi-autobiographical tale is narrated by the author himself, and his voice is full of humor, heart-break, and it perfectly captures the trials of a part-time Indian. Alone in my car, I laughed, I cried, and I felt like I really got to know Arnold and his many plights. The only thing I missed were the hand-drawn cartoons scattered throughout the physical version of the book (but a quick flip through a book story copy made it all better). Both the audio and regular book are definitely worth your time.

This book covered a lot of serious topics, but boy was it funny! It was very refreshing to read a book that didn’t take itself so seriously, yet dealt with serious subjects like racism and death. I learned a lot about Indian culture, and white culture too, as Arnold navigated both as an exile and an immigrant. And even though I’d read about basketball, first love, and friendship before, everything in Alexie’s voice seemed fresh and new and funny.

Is it too cliché to say “a wonderful addition to YA literature”? Well too bad, I just said it. 


  1. I loved this book when I read it. It really brought the issue of Indian reservations into my awareness in a non-intimidating way. Great choice!