The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is Sherman Alexie’s first novel for young adults. It’s based in part on his own experiences growing up poor on the Spokane Indian Reservation. It tells the story of Junior (known as Arnold to the white people in the world he inhabits on a part-time basis), an Indian teenager coming into adulthood. When he decides to leave the run-down, dead-end reservation school to attend a rich, white farm town school, his mom tells him “you’ll be the first one to ever leave the rez this way. The Indians around here are going to be angry with you.” Not only does Junior have to confront the resentment, distrust and feelings of betrayal from his Indian friends & neighbors, he has to face an all-white school where the students “stared at me like I was a Bigfoot or UFO.”
This book is not just about the struggles of living between two worlds, the trials of being a teenager, and the challenges about being true to yourself; it’s also about resilience, determination, humor (Alexie’s at the top of his game here – we laughed and laughed), culture, and ultimately hope. Illustrated with great cartoons by Ellen Forney, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian tells Junior’s truth – the good, the painful, and the unforgettable.
For more resources on Native Americans in literature, visit the blog American Indians in Children’s Literature.
- Posted by Cori Ashley