Home > Book Recommendations, Uncategorized > Book Recommendation: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Book Recommendation: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is like getting emotionally punched in the gut, repeatedly, by an innocent looking paperback YA fiction novel.  The main character has so many problems at once and goes through so many horrors that the funny parts of the book made me laugh a bit hysterically like the main character.  The part that killed me the most was the mixed media nature of the book.  The illustrations in the book by Ellen Forney represent the drawings and cartoons made by the main character; he draws to deal with the stress in his life.  This made the book come alive for me, the added dimension to the character because his written voice is augmented by the art.

I won’t blow anything in the book; no spoilers here.  It’s really raw and hits a lot of touchy subjects like racism, alcoholism and masturbation.  The main character is dealing iwth the worst aspects of living on a reservation and dealing with a culture in extreme distress.  I’m glad to see work that does not steer clear of troubling content by dumbing down the story line.  I have to admit that youth literature is way more intense now then it was for me when I was in the seventh grade.  Mark Twain was banned from my high school library up to at least 1992 when I graduated, if that gives you a benchmark.  No surprise, this book hit the banned list pretty fast.  Thankfully, that usually guarantees a wider audience for the work.

I have always marveled at how people get riled up about protesting controversial youth literature when movies, magazines, television and the internet have ten times worse content for nudity, vulgarity and violence; all without any guiding voice to offer consideration of the content.  My HBBF brought a copy of the book home because his CPS seventh grade students were reading it.  The school’s recently graduated eighth grade had this book as a follow-up to The Hunger Games which they read last year.  I’m not someone trying hype the YA genre or read everything that gets printed, those blogs are annoying.  Really, the most major works are the ones I read.  Definitely get a copy of this book and read it, but read it at home when it’s quiet so you don’t wind up crying in public, like on the bus or subway.

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