The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
If you’ve never read anything by Sherman Alexie, you’re missing out. His writing style is so witty and refreshing; it makes for a really fun read. This novel is motivated by Alexie’s own experiences growing up, although it is written as a novel and is fiction. The main character in the story, Junior, tells about his troubles and drama growing up on an Indian reservation in Spokane, Washington. He was born with and has always had medical problems, but seems to combat these shortcomings with humor and drawing. There are several drawings throughout the book, most of which are extremely comical. I could remember myself when I was younger, probably feeling the same way that he did many times.
Junior’s best friend Rowdy was tough, and always stood up for him, until Junior decided to leave the reservation to go to the white school. Many of the Indians on the reservation felt like he was abandoning them, but none more so than Rowdy. Junior didn’t want to get stuck on the reservation and fall into the same life all the other kids did, and the white school was his way out. It was scary for him to go to a new place, with no friends, and a place where he was so different from everyone else. His own people reject him for his decision, and he doesn’t feel like he fits in at the white school either, so Junior is alone.
The situation is a sacrifice for his family as well. It is difficult for them to transport Junior to and from the school every day, and face persecution from their own people. Junior is determined to rely on himself and make something out of himself. He turns to basketball at the new school in hopes that he can find somewhere he belongs. His new team has to face his old team, which brings Junior face-to-face on the court with his old best friend and new enemy Rowdy. This witty journal follows him through his new life at a new school, and gives a window into the relationship he forms with both the white kids and his Indian tribe. It is full of humor as well as drama, and points out some of the hardships that the Indian tribe has and some heartache that no one seems immune to.