By Sherman Alexie
September 12, 2007
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 240 pages
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.
— Amazon.com description
This book was a true dream to read.
Junior Spirit is a lively, brave kid who keep me laughing nonstop, even through the heartbreaking bits. Sherman's short sentences are packed to the brim with attitude, angst and ALL CAPS, which perfectly captures the spirit of the teen voice.
Yes, teen boys are going to use the word "boner" and talk mostly in hyperbole. Sherman gets it.
"I grabbed my book and opened it up.
I wanted to smell it.
Heck, I wanted to kiss it.
Yes, kiss it.
That's right, I am a book kisser.
Maybe that's kind of perverted or maybe it's just romantic and highly intelligent." — Junior
Oh, Junior, you would hate me for saying it, but you are just so precious. You can't help but love him.
This book is a heartbreaking look at life on a reservation, but it is also written with the awareness that ALL teens feel like outsiders, regardless of their family backgrounds. As Junior says, "The world is only broken into two tribes: The people who are assholes and the people who are not."
Bonus: Illustrator Ellen Forney filled the book with wonderful cartoons drawn from Junior's hilarious point of view.
If you like this book, you might also like: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Though, I prefer Part-Time Indian! But my book club made me read this one and I actually finished it, so give me a pat on the back.)