The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown, c2007.
Junior has lived his entire life on the reservation. A reservation with no opportunity, where everyone he knows wallows in misery and alcohol with no chance for the next generation to better themselves. But one ill thought out explosion of anger leads Junior to realize that things could change. By leaving behind everything he knows, and becoming a perceived traitor to his people, he might have a chance to move beyond the life of disillusion that everyone else he knows has settled for.
A gritty and heartfelt read, this book portrays the struggle one boy faces in trying to make a better life for himself with no one else to rely on. It frankly discusses the problems plaguing reservations and the harsh realities of alcoholism and death. Junior’s life is one paved by tragedy. His surprise and awe at the ways in which the whites live in town, and his realization that their lives are not always much better than on the reservation, makes him a realistic character for a tween to read. While heavy subjects are addressed in the book, like sexuality, death, and alcoholism, they are addressed in a manner which is understandable to a tween, albeit a more mature one.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Reading level: 9th Grade
Personal thoughts- Heavy hitting but well written
Subjects/themes- Native Americans, reservation, alcoholism, loss
Awards- 2007 National Book Award in “Young People’s Literature”
Junior- High school freshman, transfers schools to try to get a better education
Rowdy- Junior’s only friend, who turns his back on Junior when he transfers
Mary- Junior’s sister, moves to Montana with her husband to meet a tragic end
Penelope- Junior’s white girlfriend
Annotation: Living in two worlds isn’t a picnic, but are they really all that different?