The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie

Debbie Weiss: I agree with both Wanda and Kim's assessment of this book --- it is just delightful. Junior, the main character, is the kind of young man you just want to hug. Though born with hydrocephalus and thus, tormented by other children, he doesn't let life get the best of him. He's artistically talented and very bright. He searches for acceptance amongst his own Indian people as well as amongst the white students at his new school. He is honest and devoted to his family. It practically crushed me to see how tormented he became at the losses of his grandmother, his sister, and his father's best friend. With all these sad events and difficult situations, it is still a feel-good book where you root for the underdog.
Rating: ****

Wanda Cohen: I agree with Kim, this is an amazing book. Alexie's ability to share from his heart and his gut, by equal measure, is rare. To do it with as much humor as pain, is a gift. I love the main character, Arnold, or Junior as he was known on the rez. He deals with all life dishes out with strength well beyond his 14 years. Junior's determination to be accepted turns into a search for where he really belongs. Does he belong to the Indian tribe of his family, the white tribe of students at his new school, the tribe of his basketball team? Where will he find his home, his support? Will he actually really belong anywhere? I highly recommend this book to teens, tweens and adults. It won all it's awards for a reason. Alexie shares his talent, his imagination, his soul, with incredibly skilled story telling. Buy it. Buy many copies to share.
Rating: *****

Kim Sisto Robinson: "Gordie, the white boy genius, gave me this book by a Russian dude named Tolstoy, who wrote, 'Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.' Well, I hate to argue with a Russian genius, but Tolstoy didn't know Indians, and he didn't know that all Indian families are unhappy for the same exact reasons: the frikkin' booze." --- Sherman Alexie (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian)

"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" is my all-time-favorite book of 2009! Sherman Alexie writes from his own experience as fourteen-year-old geek, Arnold, who lives on the Rez. Alexie's voice is so amazingly powerful and profound, raw and real, that my book felt as if it could actually start on fire. One minute I was laughing my ass off and the next minute I was sobbing. One minute my entire body was aching and the next minute my body was filled with pure pleasure.

Arnold wants more. He wants to play basketball, get good grades, and go on to college. The Rez and his Spokane Tribe are pulling him in one direction and the white world and academia is pulling him in another direction. "I was the only kid, white or Indian, who knew that Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities. And let me tell you, we Indians were the worse of times and those white kids were best of times." --- Sherman Alexie (The Absolute True Diary of a Part-time Indian)

Alexie's book won the National Book Award, Horn Book Award, Blue Ribbon Award, School Library Award, Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and many others. His masterpiece is Catcher and the Rye and Angela's Ashes all rolled into one. I relished this book so much that I can't stop talking about it. I've ordered several copies to give to family and friends because everybody should be required to read it, devour it, love it, and savor the messages of hope, not only for American Indian people, but for ALL of humanity.

Click here to listen to Sherman Alexie read excerpts from his book.
Rating: *****

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