Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

I am in love with this book. The more I think about it, the more I love it. It's got everything that makes a book wonderful: lots of humor, tragedy (for a purpose), determination, courage, and writing that is so good you just want to wallow in it. If you only ever pick up one young adult book, it better be this one. It's that good.

I will copy my amazon review below. I hope you'll read this one and agree with me. I'm still smiling about this unique novel.


I wish it was possible to give a book six stars on Amazon. Or ten stars. Or a hundred stars. Not for just any book, mind you; only for those that pack such emotional wallop, humor, and writing into them that the usual scale just doesn't do them justice. The sort of book like the young adult novel The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie that just makes you immediately realize this book deserves way more than just five stars.

Arnold (also known as Junior), lives on the Spokane Native American Reservation where drinking and dysfunction are imprinted on the genes of its inhabitants. Arnold's faced a lot in his life, including being born as a hydroencephalic to well-meaning but disappointing parents. But as Arnold looks around and sees how everyone, including his older sister, has given up, something is sparked within and he becomes determined to make something of his life. So with lots of courage, Arnold talks his parents into letting him attend Reardon High School, the "white" school outside the reservation that will give him the contacts and advantages the rez school cannot.

From the moment Arnold steps into Reardon, his life changes, as he knew it would, and a lesser person would have been brought down immediately in the face of becoming an outcast on the reservation for having the nerve to think he could be "better". Life at Reardon is difficult, too; as the only Indian at the school, Arnold's got to somehow forge friendships from people very different than himself. But Arnold's not a quitter, even when he's forced to walk the distance to school because his father is either too drunk or too broke to take him; not even when his former schoolmates and their parents turn out en masse to boo and throw things when he plays basketball against the rez school. Arnold takes refuge in his skill as a cartoonist and his self-knowledge that somehow he will survive.

The story is told with liberal humor and lots of tragedy, and Arnold is a typical self-deprecating teen. Alexie's writing is the kind I'd like to actually crawl inside, it's so good. An example is when Arnold's math teacher convinces him that he can better himself: "I was starting to understand. He was a math teacher. I had to add my hope to somebody else's hope. I had to multiply hope by hope." Later, while clinging to his mother following a devastating tragedy, Arnold says: "...she held on to me for hours. Held onto me like I was a baby. And she kept crying. So many tears. My clothes and hair were soaked with her tears. It was, like, my mother had given me a grief shower, you know? Like she'd baptized me with her pain."

When you finish some books and close them, you may know you've enjoyed them by the way you're left feeling. Maybe you're smiling over a happy ending, or you're breathing hard because you've survived an action-filled climax. With The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, there will be so much more; Arnold is going to live with you in his heart-warming, hopeful manner forever. Six stars. One hundred stars. One very large star that supersedes all others. Whatever. This book is simply one of the best I've read. I cannot recommend it highly enough for people of all ages.


Andi said...

I'll read it. Sold!

Bookfool said...

Squeee! I knew you'd love it, Tammy! I just knew it!!!

BookAddict said...

I am so glad you loved it as much as I did, Tammy!