The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie
Publisher: Prince Frederick MD: Recorded Books 2008
length: 5 CDs
Classification: Young Adult Fiction
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Media Type: Audiobook, read by Sherman Alexie
Grade level: 7-Adult
Reader's annotation: How does a geeky teenage Spokane Indian get off the reservation? He goes to the all-white school where he finds his place among the outsiders.
Summary: “I was born with water on the brain.” These are the opening words of the book. We then hear about all the other quirks and anomalies Junior (Arnold) had growing up on the Spokane Indian reservation. The Indians were poor and there wasn’t much to do, so fun often involved getting into trouble. When one of Arnold’s teachers encourages him to transfer to the better high school off the reservation, he decides it may be his only way to escape the cycle of poverty and does it immediately before he can change his mind. Being the only Indian in an all-white school makes him a curiosity at first but he eventually finds a place and makes some friends. He definitely has two lives, school and “the res” that do not intersect at all. They become difficult to juggle when the alcoholic, self-destructive behavior of some family members result in some deaths. But it doesn’t bring him down and he is stronger for living through the difficulties. Listening to the tape meant missing the cartoons that are in the book but hearing the author tell the story makes up for it.
Evaluation: Alexie reads his story with a mix of seriousness and sarcasm that had us laughing at some of the most difficult moments. Wonderful coming of age story that impresses one on the author’s ability to keep his own life priorities in place while strong surrounding influences could bring him down.
- I grew up outside of Boston, went to college in western MA and lived in NYC dancing for several years before getting my teaching credentials and unintentionally moving to Santa Cruz CA. Married and divorced with two kids almost grown, a daughter in college and a son in high school, I am thrilled to be a librarian now, something that I should have done years ago. I love the applications of technology and realize that I have been interested in that since my first computer class back in 1986 - a new requirement for teaching degrees. Finally I can combine my love of curriculum, educational resources, working with adults and children, and technology applications.