Summary and book reviews of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

By Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2007,
    230 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2009,
    288 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading

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Book Summary

In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

THE BLACK-EYE-OF-THE-MONTH CLUB

I was born with water on the brain.

Okay, so that’s not exactly true. I was actually born with too much cerebral spinal fluid inside my skull. But cerebral spinal fluid is just the doctors’ fancy way of saying brain grease. And brain grease works inside the lobes like car grease works inside an engine. It keeps things running smooth and fast. But weirdo me, I was born with too much grease inside my skull, and it got all thick and muddy and disgusting, and it only mucked up the works. My thinking and breathing and living engine slowed down and flooded.

My brain was drowning in grease.

But that makes the whole thing sound weirdo and funny, like my brain was a giant French fry, so it seems more serious and poetic and accurate to say, “I was born with water on the brain.” 

Okay, so maybe that’s not a very serious way to say it, either. Maybe the whole thing is weird and funny.

But, jeez, did ...

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    National Book Awards
    2007

Reviews

BookBrowse

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is quirky and funny and captivating in its improbability because it comes straight from the author's own life - miraculously, wonderfully, improbably, Junior possesses an internal strength untrammeled by the insults of others and piercing in its illumination of sociological faultlines.   (Reviewed by Amy Reading).

Full Review Members Only (967 words).

Media Reviews
The New York Times - Bruce Barcott

Working in the voice of a 14-year-old forces Alexie to strip everything down to action and emotion, so that reading becomes more like listening to your smart, funny best friend recount his day while waiting after school for a ride home.

VOYA

This first young adult novel by the acclaimed Indian writer whose adult fiction is used in many high school classrooms is based on Alexie's own memoir.

Booklist

Younger teens looking for the strength to lift themselves out of rough situations would do well to start here.

Publishers Weekly

Jazzy syntax and Forney's witty cartoons examining Indian versus White attire and behavior transmute despair into dark humor; Alexie's no-holds-barred jokes have the effect of throwing the seriousness of his themes into high relief. Ages 14+

Kirkus Reviews

Junior's keen cartoons sprinkle the pages as his fluid narration deftly mingles raw feeling with funny, sardonic insight.

Library Journal

Starred Review. The teen's determination to both improve himself and overcome poverty, despite the handicaps of birth, circumstances, and race, delivers a positive message in a low-key manner. Alexie's tale of self-discovery is a first purchase for all libraries. Grade 7-10

Reader Reviews
julian

funny but immature
It was a great book ,but it was written like it was for younger people, like 5th graders. The rating of maturity content to writing style didn't make sense, 8th grade maturity to 5th grade writing level.

Grandma Patty

15 year old loves Sherman Alexie's Books
The Absolutely True Story of a Part-time Indian was a birthday gift to my grandson. I was amazed that he began reading the book the day he received it. He couldn't put it down. We have now collected more of Alexie's books for him. Our only wish is ...   Read More

Nick

Funny, True, and a book for Mature teens.
The book was great, the longest I have ever read. It was an extremely funny book. And a book with the voice of an actually Indian teenager.

Dilzina

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie has done an excellent job capturing the experiences and emotions of an adolescent Native American boy struggling with his identity. He brings a sense of closeness with the character making you actually like the Indian, almost wanting ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Sherman Alexie

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...

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