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

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

Reason for Reading: This was one of my planned reads for the social justice theme read in February.

When Arnold “Junior” Spirit accidentally breaks his rez-teacher’s nose, he gets a piece of unexpected advice: get off the rez before you lose your spirit. Junior decides to go to the all-white high school in a farm town 20 miles away from the reservation. He consequently deals with racism from the whites and hatred from his reservation friends, while fighting the usual teen problems of making friends, succeeding in sports, hiding his poverty, and impressing the girls. This book is hilarious and tragic at the same time. I loved the cartoons drawn by Junior…and I loved his dry, sarcastic humor. The characterization was fantastic – I really felt for Junior during his troubles. But you can’t read this book and expect some fuzzy-happy picture to be painted of reservation life. This book is gritty and realistic. Even rather depressing at times. I was really touched at Alexie’s honest portrayal of the life of a reservation kid. I look forward to reading more of Alexie’s books in the future. 

2 thoughts on “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

  1. Living in my part of the USA, folks do not hear or think much about reservation life. This sounds like a realistic non sensational attempt to portray a piece of it. The wonder of books is that these views can disseminate into so many places.


  2. Yes, the book was non-sensational, as you say. But one thing I was thinking about while reading it – if the author of this book were white, he'd get completely derailed by criticism and outrage for some of the stereotypes he employed in this book (like alcoholism and domestic violence). Yet because Alexie is Native American, the book was lauded as literature. It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it?


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