Thursday, August 21, 2008

THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie, Little Brown and Company, 2007, 230 pp


Big book in terms of recognition and awards. It won the National Book Award in the Young Adult category. I liked it just fine but I would not call it great.

Junior is a smart but nerdy weakling who has grown up on a Spokane Indian reservation. He decides to go to high school in an all white neighboring town instead of attending the reservation school because he wants a good education and he suspects it might be a way out of a preordained life on the rez, where most people die alcohol related deaths. Throughout the book, he suffers; at home, where he is looked upon as a traitor and at school, where he is the only Indian besides the school mascot.

The story draws you in, the humor is truly funny, Junior's trials affect your heart and Alexie makes plenty of important points about Native American life in the 21st century. In the end though, the story arc is predictable. Instead of a white nerd overcoming social and personal barriers, it is a Native American nerd.

Having said that, I do think it is an important book for raising awareness about Native Americans, especially if they are still teaching the altered history I had in school.

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