Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Book Recommendation: The Absolutely True Diary...

"If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing." ~Sherman Alexie

OK, I have a book recommendation for you. Yes, it's Young Adult, since I've been reading a lot of that lately, and yes, adults as well as upper-level teens will like it.

I had seen this book recommended on a number of “Must Read” lists of Young Adult fiction – but I’ll be honest, the rather awkward title put me off. Don't make this same mistake! The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is a brilliant, heart-breaking, funny, powerful story that will remain with you long after you finish the final page.

I loved it.

Absolutely loved it.

Arnold “Junior” Spirit is a teen living on a Spokane Indian Reservation. He’s the awkward, cross-eyed, friendless son to drunken but well-meaning parents, and he’s also too smart to stay on the “rez." After sitting in class one day realizing that life on the rez means a dead-end life, Junior decides he wants to attend the all-white school twenty-two miles away.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian tells the story of Junior’s freshman year as the only Indian at Reardan High School (well, besides the mascot). He’s picked on, ignored, beat up – and then, miracle of miracles, accepted, not only by fellow nerd Gordy, but by the beautiful. blonde Penelope and even the jocks. Amid this adjustment, though, Junior has to deal with the fact that his best friend on the rez, Rowdy, is furious (and heart-broken) at being deserted. The rest of the Indians aren’t any more forgiving, either.

The brilliance of this book is Junior’s voice. It is poignantly honest, funny, offensive at times, smart and smart-assed, and it doesn’t shy away from telling the horrible truths about what life is like on an Indian reservation – and what happens when you’re the single minority in a brand new school full of white faces.

One warning, however: there are a lot of sexual references and vulgarity, so even though it’s tagged as appropriate for grades 7-10, I’d recommend this book for older readers rather than middle schoolers.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a brilliant piece of YA fiction that deserves every accolade it’s received. I loved it!! Anyone else out there read it?

1 comment:

Charity Tahmaseb said...

You probably already know what I'm going to say. ;-)

I loved this book. My son loved this book. I initially checked it out of the library for him, but he loved it so much, he wanted his own copy. He'll pick it up and reread it or parts of it now and then.

I can't say enough good things about this book.