Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

YA literature is not my usual go-to, but this book came up on a ‘banned books’ list and since I had never heard of it (it was published after I graduated high school) I thought, “hey I’ll check it out!” I can certainly understand why this book resonates with so many young readers. It tells the story of a kid struggling with all of the ‘normal’ stuff kids deal with as well as a number of very ‘adult issues’ that unfortunately, too many kids deal with daily. 

Junior is a ‘wimpy kid’ who lives on a reservation in Spokane, WA who decides to attend the all-white school in the next town rather than the high school on the reservation. While this is most likely a good move for his education, Junior is forced to deal with feelings of betrayal and the loss of his best friend as a consequence of his decision. He is also a kid who feels things deeply so he falls in love quickly, he cries easily, and thus he becomes a target of bullying.

Alexie tells Junior’s story with humor and the ‘singular wit’ of a high school kid. The narrative is raw, honest, and unfiltered (I suppose this is why it’s on some banned books lists) which makes reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian a pleasure; one moment you’re laughing and the next you’re a blubbering mess on the couch. I would recommend this book to any high school kid or mature middle schooler as it deals with the ‘stuff’ kids are facing daily at home, in school, and in the larger world. 



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