Junior is not only a smart, nerdy misfit painfully wending his
way through adolescence. He's also dirt poor. He's the son of two alcoholics.
He's the only Indian at his all-white school. And he's physically challenged; he
was born with water on the brain and though he has overcome major mental and
motor deficiencies, his health is so fragile that one blow to the head could
kill him. It would all bit a bit over-the-top for a young adult novel
it's largely true. Sherman Alexie's bio on his
sounds like a summary of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
The book is quirky and funny and captivating in its improbability because it
comes straight from the author's own life.
What makes Junior so appealing is that he is entirely uncowed by his own
nerdiness. Unlike other literary misfits who retreat into their own...
Beyond the Book
Sherman Alexie and his avatar Junior are members of the
Spokane Tribe of
Indians. Alexie grew up in Wellpinit, the Tribal Headquarters on the Spokane
Indian Reservation in eastern Washington. Spokane means "Children of the Sun."
The Tribe once inhabited over three million acres of land surrounding the
Spokane and Columbia Rivers. In 1775, their population was estimated at between
1400 and 2500 people. The first white man to enter their territory was David
Thompson, a trapper, who arrived in 1807. Under the Homestead Act of 1862, white
settlers began taking possession of native lands. In 1881, President Rutherford
B. Hayes pared the Tribe's land down to the present-day reservation, which
comprises about 150,000 acres. But while their...