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

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

book cover image from goodreads.com

Alexie, Sherman.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian.  229p.  Little, Brown.  2007.  ISBN 978-0-316-01368-0.Arnold Spirit, Jr., nicknamed Junior, is an American Indian living on a Spokane, Washington reservation.  He was born with encephalitis (water on the brain), and he has several disabilities.  Junior loves to draw and discovers the positive and also unfortunately the  negative power of friendship.  In his freshman year, he switches to an all-white public school 20 miles away to try to help him better his education.  He has a very difficult time in the new school-he is after all the only American Indian at the new school, unless you count the school mascot.  He makes it on to the varsity basketball team, which is fine until he has to play against the school team on his reservation, including his former best friend, Rowdy.

His home life isn’t great either.  Between the tension between him and his former best friend, the pervasiveness of alcoholism in his family and on the reservation, a few family members deaths, and life on the reservation life is difficult.  Add puberty to the mix, and life gets pretty complicated!

Alexie tells us Junior’s story in a very compelling, humorous, and gentle way.  Readers will laugh and cry, and will be pulling for Junior the entire time.

Genre:  Realistic fiction, humor

Tags: American indian, reservation, humor, coming-of-age, school, culture,

Series:  This book is not part of a series.

A/R Reading level: 4.0

Interest level:  Grades 7-12

Link to Harvest Park Library catalog:  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

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