Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist 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. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings 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 thought he was destined to live.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Alexie's YA debut, released in hardcover to instant success, recieving seven starred reviews, hitting numerous bestseller lists, and winning the 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 7–10—Exploring Indian identity, both self and tribal, Alexie's first young adult novel is a semiautobiographical chronicle of Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, a Spokane Indian from Wellpinit, WA. The bright 14-year-old was born with water on the brain, is regularly the target of bullies, and loves to draw. He says, "I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats." He expects disaster when he transfers from the reservation school to the rich, white school in Reardan, but 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 the protagonist's grandmother, dog, and older sister would be all but unbearable without the humor and resilience of spirit with which Junior faces the world. The many characters, on and off the rez, with whom he has dealings are portrayed with compassion and verve, particularly the adults in his extended family. Forney's simple pencil cartoons fit perfectly within the story and reflect the burgeoning artist within Junior. Reluctant readers can even skim the pictures and construct their own story based exclusively on Forney's illustrations. The teen's determination to both improve himself and overcome poverty, despite the handicaps of birth, circumstances, and race, delivers a positive message in a low-key manner. Alexie's tale of self-discovery is a first purchase for all libraries.—Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Arnold Spirit, a goofy-looking dork with a decent jumpshot, spends his time lamenting life on the "poor-ass" Spokane Indian reservation, drawing cartoons (which accompany, and often provide more insight than, the narrative), and, along with his aptly named pal Rowdy, laughing those laughs over anything and nothing that affix best friends so intricately together. When a teacher pleads with Arnold to want more, to escape the hopelessness of the rez, Arnold switches to a rich white school and immediately becomes as much an outcast in his own community as he is a curiosity in his new one. He weathers the typical teenage indignations and triumphs like a champ but soon faces far more trying ordeals as his home life begins to crumble and decay amidst the suffocating mire of alcoholism on the reservation. Alexie's humor and prose are easygoing and well suited to his young audience, and he doesn't pull many punches as he levels his eye at stereotypes both warranted and inapt. A few of the plotlines fade to gray by the end, but this ultimately affirms the incredible power of best friends to hurt and heal in equal measure. Younger teens looking for the strength to lift themselves out of rough situations would do well to start here. Chipman, Ian --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"A Native American equivalent of Angela's Ashes." (Publishers Weekly (starred review) )
"Sure to resonate and lift spirits of all ages for years to come." (USA Today )
"Realistic and fantastical and funny and tragic-all at the same time." (VOYA (starred review) )
"The line between dramatic monologue, verse novel, and standup comedy gets unequivocally-and hilariously and triumphantly-bent in this novel." (Horn Book (starred review) )
"What emerges most strongly is Junior's uncompromising determination to press on while leaving nothing important behind." (BCCB (starred review) )
"Few writers are more masterful than Sherman Alexie." (Los Angeles Times )
"Alexie's humor and prose are easygoing and well suited to his young audience." (Booklist )
"Fierce observations and sharp sense of humor...hilarious language." (Newsday )
"Exceptionally good....Arnold is a wonderful character." (Miami Herald )
"[Alexie] has created an endearing teen protagonist in his own likeness and placed him in the here and now." (Minneapolis Star Tribune )
"Deftly taps into the human desire to stand out while fitting in." (BookPage )
"Nimbly blends sharp with unapologetic emotion....fluid narration deftly mingles raw feelings with funny, sardonic insight." ((starred review) Kirkus Reviews )
"This is a gem of a book....may be [Sherman Alexie's] best work yet." (New York Times )
"Breathtakingly honest, funny, profane, sad....will stay with readers." (KLIATT (starred review) )
About the Author
A National Book Award-winning author, poet, and filmmaker, Sherman has been named one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists and has been lauded by The Boston Globe as "an important voice in American literature." He is one of the most well known and beloved literary writers of his generation, with works such as The Long Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and Reservation Blues and has received numerous awards and citations, including the PEN/Malamud Award for Fiction and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award.
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