THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN
Boston : Little, Brown, 2007
Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, is a Spokane Indian from Wellpinit, WA living on the rez. He is a goofy looking kid and the target of bullies. He is dirt poor and has little hope of ever changing anything. That's the way it is on the rez. When Arnold's teacher suggests that he go to school in the nearby town instead of the rez school, everything changes. Arnold now travels 20 miles each way, sometimes on foot, to get to the school. At first, the kids just see the goofy looking Indian boy. His only friend is a geeky kid who is also an outcast. And back on the rez, Arnold is seen as a traitor to the rez. When Arnold makes the basketball team, things change -- but not necessarily for the better. But with Arnold's sense of humor and his comics, I just know he'll be OK.
It all started my freshman
year in High School on the day I hit Mr. P in the head with my geometry
book. Okay, maybe it all really started when I was born with water on the
brain. Well actually with excess cerebral spinal fluid inside my skull
which is sort of like brain grease that we all need, but I had too much
and my brain was like drowning in grease.
Absolutely true? As readers
share Juniorís experiences on the reservation and at the all-white high
school in the nearby town, they might wonder how much worse adolescence
could possibly be. Is this really the true story of Sherman Alexieís high
school life? Or does Alexie use fiction to depict the miseries of his own
teen years and achieve control over the unexaggerated painful memories?
Ironic humor and wit allow Junior to tell the tales of his struggle to
rise above his lifeís circumstances and even to draw strength from his
misfortune. The skillful writing allows readers to the hardships and empathize
with Junior and his friend.
Arnold is having trouble fitting in on the reservation. He is smart and being constantly picked on by others. He is also hilarious, insightful, and an amazing cartoon artist. His best friend Rowdy acts as his protector and they are very close until Junior decides to go to the white school outside of the reservation. He loses his best friend and part of his identity but also gains a new reputation. Who has Arnold become, and is it all worth it? Be prepared to laugh and cry at the same time. (Rhode Island Teen Book Awards, 2008-09)
Arnold Spirit, known as Junior to family and friends, is a Native American teenager with a lot of problems: various medical issues, bullies who regularly seek him out, an alcoholic father, and a dirt-poor family (so poor that theyíre forced to shoot their dog because thereís no money for a vet). Despite all his problems Junior has a great sense of humor. Heís a basketball player and a cartoonist, too, and his drawings are laugh-out-loud funny. Heís the kind of underdog youíll love to root for. Juniorís school on the reservation is terrible: with 30-yr-old textbooks and teachers who forget to come to class. Junior wants to fight that, but finally his math teacher convinces him that things on the rez are never going to change. Mr. P lays it on the line and tells Junior he needs to get off the reservation, before it kills him and his spirit. He encourages Junior to transfer to a wealthy, all-white high school nearby. Talk about culture shock! The only other Indian there is the school mascot. Things are tough at the new school. Kids arenít friendly and make fun of his NA heritage. What makes the situation worse is that the whole reservation thinks Junior's a sell-out. Now he belongs nowhere. This is a seriously funny story about overcoming poverty, handicaps, and discrimination. (Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards Program, 2009-2010)
Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, humorously looks back on his freshman year when he transferred from the reservation school to a nearby all-white school and dealt with racism, was viewed as a traitor to his community, lost his best friend, and coped with family deaths. (Florida Teen Reads nominee, 2010)
Spokane Indians -- Fiction.
Indians of North America -- Washington (State) -- Fiction.
Indian reservations -- Fiction.
Race relations -- Fiction.
Diaries -- Fiction.