The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian — Review

June 29, 2014

In reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, I think it was another case of the book coming into my life at the wrong time because it was a complete miss for me.

Objectively I can look at it and see why people like it and why it’s important, especially for young adult readers (so for the love of all that is holy stop trying to ban it, people!), but I was left feeling kind of meh.

Junior has spent his whole life on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Every member of his family has spent their whole life on the rez and they have nothing to show for it. Junior wants to make something of himself and escape the black hole of despair that the rez seems to create, so he makes a drastic decision — he leaves (at least part-time) and attends the all-white high school in the farm town outside the rez.

By taking his life and future into his own hands, Junior faces the racism of the teachers and students at his new school and the anger and resentment of the community back on the rez. He quickly goes from a wimpy kid who could never stand up for himself to a kid who stands up for a whole lot more.

Like I said, this book wasn’t my favorite. The narrative just didn’t really click with me. But I think it will resonate with a lot of readers, especially young adults/teens (who are, after all, the intended audience) dealing with feelings of belonging and taking charge of their own lives.

This book also has really important messages about acceptance and diversity and also about struggles that many Native Americans face in society, which is a topic less often covered in school or other books. And so people really need to stop challenging it when it shows up on school reading lists. It provides a staggeringly underrepresented perspective and it’s important! Your ninth grader will not be scarred for life by reading a reference to masturbation. Really. I promise.

OK. Let kids read the book. Even though I didn’t like it. Rant/rambling review over.


2 Responses to “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian — Review”

  1. Julia said

    Have you read Flight? It came out around the same time as Absolutely True Diary, and not many people read it but I think it would appeal to you more. Also it’s one of my favorite books.

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