If you read my post from Tuesday, you’ll know that I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and scheduled a post for last Thursday. However, instead of posting like I intended it to do, it was made into a page. So it’s been here, just not in the right place. Basically, I’m just going to copy what I wrote.
Also, if you didn’t read Tuesday’s post, you totally should. It’s all about my adventure at the Quidditch World Cup.
“It’s all love and death.”
I don’t know if Sherman Alexie meant to summarize his book in this sentence, but that’s what it felt like for me. I finally read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and it is just as hilarious and heart-breaking as advertised.
Junior (or Arnold, as he is sometimes known) has grown up on the reservation his whole life, but when he gets fed up and throws a book at the teacher, the teacher tells him he has to leave. Not because he’s angry, but because he knows that the reservation life will eventually kill that fighting spirit that is Arnold’s only hope. Thus begins Arnold’s life as a part-time Indian.
Each day, he manages to get the 21 miles from his home to the all-white school just outside the reservation. He doesn’t fit in at first, and he doesn’t know the rules. But over time, he manages to join the basketball time, get a semi-girlfriend, and even make friends. Of course, everyone back home hates him because they consider him a traitor. It’s a struggle to figure out how he can keep his home, his culture, and his family without giving up his hopes for the future.
Now, it’s about a teenage boy, so along the way there are metaphorical (and even some actual) boners, some cussing, and a lot of jokes. There is pain and grief, but there is also triumph. All in all, it’s a rewarding story without sugar coating the details. Alexie himself is a Native American writer who draws attention to the Native American struggles he grew up with and around. In fact, this novel is semi-autobiographical, down to the whole “water on the brain” bit.
I really enjoyed it, even when it broke my heart or made me angry at the characters. I finished it in a day, which is a whole lot of enjoying you know
My most favorite thing about this book: There is death in this book. And each death comes really suddenly and hits the reader (and Junior) very hard. It might be difficult to read, but it’s how death really works, and I appreciate that.
My least favorite thing about this book: My least favorite scene was the second basketball game that Junior played against Rowdy and his old school. It was really well-written, but it was also pretty heartbreaking because Junior’s triumph meant the other team had to fail and while he may have been the underdog, his team wasn’t, so it isn’t the typical fairy-tale story we’ve grown to appreciate.
Who I would most like to recommend this book to: Honestly? Probably I’d recommend this to other white people. Because we don’t see all of these struggles, we can’t possibly understand it, and reading about this problems from someone who actually lived them is one step closer to accepting that we really don’t get it at all.
Where this book sits on my bookshelf: After The Five People You Meet in Heaven and before V.C. Andrews’s Rain.