Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sherman Alexie. THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN.

I went into this one not knowing what to expect. I had read the rave reviews. But, I had no idea what the book was about. The title didn’t reveal much either. Turns out, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a refreshing book about a boy learning to make his way in two different worlds. Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, is a Spokane Indian living on a reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. After receiving a textbook in geometry class that belonged to his mother more than 30 years ago, he becomes disgusted with education on the reservation. He makes a bold decision. He is going to attend the high school in the next town in Reardon. It’s an all-white school. So, not only does he have to face the guilt of deserting his reservation, but he must face the scrutiny and racism at the all-white school. But, he knows if he is ever going to make something of himself, he must go to a better school. All this sounds pretty serious, and the book does have some heavy topics. But, it has its fair share of humor as well. When describing the rules of fighting on the reservation, Junior explains his fighting skills:

"Yes, I was a terrible fighter.
I was a human punching bag.
I lost fights to boys, girls, and kids half my age.
One bully, Micah, made me beat up myself. Yes, he made me punch myself in the face three times. I am the only Indian in the history of the world who ever lost a fight with himself."

Yeah, it definitely makes you laugh, but it also makes you sad, happy, and hopeful. As an added bonus, the illustrations scattered throughout the book are downright hilarious!

For more on Alexie, click here: http://www.fallsapart.com/