Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie

Junior was born with water on the brain and survived a dangerous surgery at 6 months. Even overcoming these obstacles, he's awkward, stutters, and suffers from seizures. He pretty much is constantly beat up by everyone on the rez, and life really isn't all that great for him. After a book throwing incident, Junior decides to attend high school off the reservation where he will be the only Indian (as they are referred to in the book) other than the mascot.

Not a very good description...

I really enjoyed this book. I read it in nearly one setting, though some of that was due to illness which confined me to one space. I just simply enjoyed it and wanted to see what was going to happen to Junior.

I found Junior an interesting character. Some of the things that he did seemed unbelievable to me, but most of the story seemed like a fairly realistic coming of age story. My favorite scene in the book is near the end when Junior's basketball team is facing the team from the reservation and Junior realizes that the kids on his team all have a distinct future: college, jobs, etc. Whereas, the kids on the reservation team don't. They will all continue to live on the reservation and (likely) be poor and drunk like their parents before them. And then there's Junior trying to figure out where he belongs in those two worlds.

This book is supposed to be based loosely on Alexie's own life, which helps add to the story. You can read his biography on his website.

Finally, while I enjoyed the story a lot, it is crude in parts. I skipped several pages where he talked about things that I didn't want to read about. There is some language, though not as much as I was honestly expecting. So, if that kind of thing bothers you, you might want to skip this one.


Janssen said...

I enjoyed this book too, but when I mentioned in my review that it had some crass parts and that it would make me hesitant to recommend it without a little disclaimer, a commenter told me I was living under a rock! Too funny.

Shelley said...

I usually don't appreciate the kinds of things that were in this book, but somehow they were done in a way that it didn't bother me. I guess it just seemed so honest. If you were to get inside a 14-year-old's brain, this is what you would find.
Janssen, I freely admit that I live under a rock and I like it there!