Thursday, January 7, 2010

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

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. Published 2007 by Little, Brown and Company. Fiction. Young Adult.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, was one of my favorite reads of 2009.

Alexie's book is the story of a young boy known as Junior who's growing up on the Spokane Indian reservation. He's got some medical problems and he gets bullied a lot; his parents are unhappy; his older sister runs away. But he's got some things going for him, too- he's determined to get a good education and manages to get himself transferred to an all-white school off the reservation, where he excels at basketball and learns to believe in himself.

I loved this book. I loved it. I laughed and cried with his struggles, his victories and his defeats. Junior's dysfunctional family is every dysfunctional family, and his problems are the problems of every kid who ever felt like he didn't fit in or that nobody understood him (or her). He pushes his way through the pain of racism, defeatism and adolescence with a tenacity that was so affecting for being so real. Alexie tackles some tough issues- racism, poverty, addiction, discouragement and the deep pessimism that comes when you feel like the whole world is against you. Things don't always go well for Junior and he doesn't always win but he does his best and he does well.

The Absolutely True Diary is a book I wish I could give to every kid I know and everyone who ever was a kid. It's brilliant and beautiful and wonderful. I loved Alexie's writing, which, although clearly enough for a teen audience, doesn't condescend or talk down and shows craft and skill enough for any adult to appreciate. Ellen Forney's comic-like illustrations, which pepper the story, are cute and sweet and darkly funny. I burned through it in about three days over the summer when I was home sick and can't think of a better way to spend time than reading this lovely gem of a book.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review from the publisher.

13 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Ellen Forney has some wonderful comic books too. She's definitely someone I'd like to see more of!

Jeanne said...

I like the way Junior conquers enough of his own prejudice to let other people see that he's more than just an "Indian." I had some controversy in the comments when I reviewed this one (http://necromancyneverpays.blogspot.com/2009/11/absolutely-true-diary-of-part-time.html), partly because it's a touchy subject and probably partly because I didn't articulate some of my ideas about the book very well.

Care said...

I loved this book, too. It covers so much in heartfelt yet not sappy ways.

bermudaonion said...

I've seen this on more than one best of 2009 lists. I need to get a copy of it.

Aarti said...

I recently put this one on my wish list on Amazon. It sounds fantastic!

nanscorner said...

I read this book in a multicultural children's lit class and LOVED it. I want to read something else by Alexie but I haven't yet.

Lesley said...

OK, on the TBR list it goes!

jewwishes said...

I enjoyed your review...so much so that I will check into the book.

Bored_D said...

I have read so many great reviews about this book, but for some reason up until now have been reluctant to add it to my to read list. Your review changed my mind, and hope I get around to reading it soon - looks like a great, quick read!

stacybuckeye said...

I adored this book! It was my favorite read last year and your review captured its charm perfectly.

JoAnn said...

You've convinced me... and I think one of my daughters would love it, too.

Zibilee said...

I've never read anything by Alexie, but I have heard good things about his work. I think this would make a great book for both of my kids, and will have to see where and when I can grab them a copy. Glad you enjoyed it so much!!

Teresa said...

I LOVED this book! I strongly recommend listening to the audio version which Alexie reads. His narration adds a lot. Of course, the audio version doesn't have the cartoons. Buy both!