The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Collector's Edition Hardcover – Dec 9 2009
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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 an alternate 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 an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The characters in the novel are realistic and the cartoons that Junior draws only add to the story. The author's writing is easy to read and there is never a dull moment. Junior's tale is a story of difficulties, friendship and above all, hope.
Source: Personal Copy
Sherman Alexie has written a book that has really hit home with me. This fast-paced read is one that people of all ages will be able to relate to and appreciate what Alexie has put to paper. Junior, a 14-year-old Native American is struggling with everyday life. He's an awkward boy and being a teenager doesn't help, being poor is an added issue, having a disability is one more. Despite his issues, he's quite intelligent. Despite his despair, he's quite the humorist. School on the reservation is not up to par, at the beginning of the school year Junior is handed a math book with his mother's name printed inside. Yes, this is the same book is mother was given many years earlier. Junior soon realizes that it may be time to go to public school off the reservation. Junior aspires to become a cartoonist, he wants to break the cycle of 'rez life,' and he has the encouragement of one teacher. When Junior takes a leap of faith and transfers to an all-white top-of-the-line school, twenty miles away, he struggles with the reaction of his new peers, and the ones he left behind. Transportation to school and back every day is not easily accessible, and hiding it from everyone is even harder. Since transferring schools, he now lives between two worlds, both of which he has trouble fitting in. At school he is the Indian boy, at home he is the traitor- too good for his people, and now his best friend has turned his back on him. Junior learns that the world is not his oyster but be can't lives with despair and hopelessness, he needs to figure out how to deal and cope with a reality that is in front of him.Read more ›
This wonderfully funny, serious and moving book is a roman a clef of Alexie's life. His protagonist, Arnold Jr. is some 25 years younger than his real counterpart. The story is set in the 2006-2007 school year. Alexie's character, Arnold Jr. was born on November 5, 1992, the same day his best friend Rowdy was born. The two couldn't be more different, yet they form a rock solid bond.
Arnold's sister Mary, some several years his senior leaves the reservation to get married. She moves to Flattop Montana where she pursues her dream, which is to write a Native love story. Prior to her marriage, she had been living in the family basement, rarely venturing out.
Arnold, on the other hand ventures far and beyond the "rez," as the reservation is called. He and Rowdy share a love for comics and it is the clever drawings in this book that make it all the more endearing and humorous. Arnold, born with water on the brain (hydrocephalus) suffered from seizures the first 7 years of his life. He also wore Buddy Holly style glasses, which further emphasize the differences he feels in himself when compared to his peers.
Rowdy, however, treats Arnold like an equal. They exact revenge on adult triplets who have bullied and harassed them. They share laughs, tears and even guy bonding over similar interests. That is, until Arnold decides to leave the reservation school of Wellpinit for Reardan, the school in town. His decision is prompted by his anger at the old materials in Wellpinit and by a teacher who steps up to the plate for him after he gets an in-your-face idea of how disaffected Arnold really is.Read more ›
Angry that his textbook was over 30 years old, angry that living on an Indian Reservation meant he got a second-rate education. Junior loves to learn, possibly because his brain has too much grease: he was born with hydrocephalous, or water on the brain.
But he can''t learn here, so he does something drastic. He transfers to a white school 22 miles away. Now he''s a traitor at home and a novelty at school, where the only other Indian is the mascot.
Junior's reflections on school, popularity, poverty, racism and alcoholism are all delivered through his diary and his cartoons, with a hefty dose of humour that makes this book both hilarious and thought-provoking.
Although the heavy issues addressed by Alexie could easily make this book depressing and unreadable, Junior's cartoons and sense of humour keep it from getting bogged down.
This book won the National Book Award for a reason - it's fantastic.
Most recent customer reviews
Perfect for a teen. It represent well the problems not only of Indians on reservations, but any group of people living in a "ghetto" of poverty and despair despite having... Read morePublished 2 months ago by alwayscurious
I bought this for my son and decided to read it first. It is an easy read, would keep a young teen interested because it is funny and has lots of pictures but I don't like some of... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
An outstanding book in every way, suitable for boys 14 and up.Published 9 months ago by Stephen Park