Review: The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Blurb: “In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school. This heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written tale, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, is based on the author’s own experiences and chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he seems destined to live.”

Favorite Line: “The world, even the smallest parts of it, is filled with things you don’t know.”
And: “But, you should approach each book—you should approach life—with the real possibility that you might get a metaphorical boner at any point.”

The Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie was one of the best reads all year. This “illuminated novel” can stand on its own, without the graphics (however they are hilarious). If only all all people could look at the world the way Gordy does in these two lines (above), as he teaches Junior to do throughout the novel. It really makes one stop and think. "I don't know everything. Even the smallest things and places have mysteries. I should be excited about life, and every thing this world has to offer."

This book deals with issues of friendship, independence, racism, loyalty, minor sexuality, relationships, family, and personal education. Also, the book is challenged in many schools. Why? Masturbation. Anytime masterbation (well and the word 'boner") is even mentioned in a book, people want to ban it. I have read two articles about banning this book recently and it just sickens me that ignorance still has influence in our society.

Alexie has been honing his craft with adult novels and books of poetry for years, and it shows in this blockbuster debut in the realistic YA fiction genre. His wordsmithing is amazing, and Junior's voice comes though the text and it feels like you know these characters personally when you are done. I think maybe that is why I am obsessed with the audio version and audio interviews with Alexie, because part of me really wants to meet the man that Junior is based upon.

Something Extra: A delight to listen to on audio, because Alexie reads it himself! (And garnered an Odyssey Award for it!) A great way to connect with an author is to listen to them read from their own work, and here Alexie becomes Junior. Also, you can purchase a great interview with Alexie and David Levithan on itunes. Oh yeah, he's writing Book II, Junior, Gordy, and Rowdy's sophomore year, right now! Check out this amazing interview:

The Bottom Line: The Absolute True Diary of a Part-time Indian won the National Book Award, and has won more awards than you can shake a stick at. This book is an excellent choice for male readers, and features a comraderie that will touch your soul. A pleasure to read and listen to on audio, buy both!
Grade: A+