- Fizzy Thoughts: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Monday, May 11, 2009


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie
September 2007
230 pages

Despite the freakishly long title (a little consideration here, title-people…if I get carpal tunnel from typing out long-ass titles, I’m gonna sue), this is a short book. I think it took it me a little over an hour to read. And that includes time spent checking out the awesome pictures that really enhance the story.

Arnold “Junior” Spirit lives on the Spokane reservation, a place of little hope. He is a frail kid, born with water on the brain. He describes himself as having a big head, big hands and feet, too many teeth, bad eyesight, as well as a stutter and a lisp. After he is suspended from school for throwing a textbook at a teacher (he was frustrated by how old the book was), Junior is inspired by that same teacher to enroll in an off-reservation school. Rejected by his best friend (as well as the entire reservation) for what is seen as a traitorous act, Junior also struggles to fit into his new all-white school. Eventually, he finds a place on the basketball team and makes new friends, but sometimes it is a real effort to make it to school. He doesn’t always have a way to get there (no money for gas, his dad is hung-over, the car is broken) and the stark reality of life on the reservation interferes. Junior is forced to deal with issues (poverty, alcoholism, frequent death, racism) that many of his new classmates are unfamiliar with.

Junior is also an artist, and the book is filled with his sketches...there are pictures of Junior, his parents, his sister, his sister's trailer, his friends, his grandma. Full of detail and little quirky captions, the pictures are a fantastic addition to the book. They even have little tape marks as if they were taped inside of the diary.

Ti had asked for recommendations for her 10 year old son who requested more mature reading material (he loved The Outsiders...wait, do 10 year boys say love?). I think this would fit the bill. The issues of race and poverty and "fitting in" give the book some teeth, and Junior certainly doesn't censor his thoughts. Life on the reservation isn't pretty, and this book reflects that.

10 comment(s):

gautami tripathy said...

It sounds like a good book for my 12 years old nephew.

everything distils into reading

bermudaonion said...

This sounds like a good book - glad you enjoyed it.

Staci said...

Really good review! My son and I both loved this book!! I reviewed it a while back on my blog.

Ti said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I am going to share it with my son.

As for the title.. why do they come up with such long ones? Guernsey did me in every time I had to type it.

Nymeth said...

I have no idea why I haven't read this yet! It seriously sounds amazing.

And lol, I actually don't mind look titles myself :P

Chris said...

Sheesh...yet another brilliant review of this book...why haven't I read it yet?!

Cathy said...

Sherman Alexie is one of my favorite authors, and I'm hoping to get my hands on a copy of this book soon. Thanks for the review!

bethany (dreadlock girl) said...

That was a great review! I have been wondering about this book and now I just gotta read it. Thanks a ton. :)

Joanne said...

Terrific review! Sounds like it would make a good addition to the Native studies section of the elementary social studies courses here.

Oh and I had to wiki-search to find out exactly what "water on the brain" was - scary but fascinating condition.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

It is a long title for such a short book. I liked this one. I'd like to read more of his books.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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