THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN -- heartbreaking, funny tale of a Native American teen growing up on the rez
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie (2007, Little, Brown Books For
Young Readers; 259 pages)
Alexie tells the story of Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, a budding cartoonist born with "water on the brain," growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Expecting disaster when he transfers from the reservation school to the rich, white school, Junior soon finds himself making friends with both geeky and popular students and starting on the basketball team. Meeting his old classmates on the court, Junior grapples with questions about what constitutes one's community, identity, and tribe. The daily struggles of reservation life and the tragic deaths of several in Junior's life would be all but unbearable without the humor and resilience of spirit with which he faces the world. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
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Recommended by: Greg