Saturday, February 16, 2008

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

Art by Ellen Forney

I don't usually read young adult novels. I'm really partial to middle grade fiction. But when I found out that The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie won the 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, I bought myself a copy.


This book terrified me.

The writing was so honest. The story was so raw and real. The main character, Arnold (Junior) Spirit, was so real.

I was stunned.

This is the story of fourteen-year-old Junior, an Indian living on the Spokane reservation, and his first year in an all-white high school. Junior has to deal with poverty, racism, loneliness, loss, being condemned as a traitor to his people for leaving the "rez," and much more. He goes through A LOT. I couldn't help but cry at one point in the novel.

And yet, this book is laugh-out-loud funny! There are really amusing illustrations. Junior witnesses and experiences tragedies. But he is a really smart, funny, and resilient guy. And there's still a lot of hope in the novel. It certainly ends on a hopeful note. In fact, it's a novel about going after your dreams... or at least making an attempt.

This novel is chock full of revelations about Native Americans and the Native American experience and enlightenment about contemporary adolescence and life in general. Sherman Alexie is such a good writer. His writing is so witty, so beautiful, so fluid.

At first I wondered why The Invention of Hugo Cabret didn't win the National Book Award. Now I know. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a really good book. It's even better than The Invention of Hugo Cabret!

Because of all the pain he has to deal with, Junior's "grieving ceremony" is trying to find the little pieces of joy in his life. He hangs on tightly to good moments. I hope I can be as strong as Junior Spirit. He manages a lot of changes and deaths.

Junior makes lists of what gives him the most joy. Here is a list of some of my "little pieces of joy":

my family
children's literature
literature for teens
Japanese food
rice, rice, rice, rice! riiiiiice
comments left on my blog
Chickenblog
Baking and Books
A Fuse #8 Production
the University of the Philippines Diliman
the resources team (goExplore) of iTi Consulting, Inc.
my friends
pleasant surprises
coffee
tea
sleeping in on Saturdays
Sunday worship services
excellence in any form
the sense of fulfillment after hard work

6 comments:

Maw Books said...

I added this book to my TBR a few weeks ago and may have to bump it up a little closer to the top. I like your list of "joys". I can't wait to read the book to find out how that plays into the book.

Tarie said...

Hi, Natasha! How are you? :)

I found The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian entertaining, emotionally stirring, compelling, and engrossing. I can't wait to read what you think of it!

Tarie said...

Oh! And I'm burning with curiosity. What are some of your "joys"? :o)

Maw Books said...

I've got it on hold at the library right now. I hope to read it before the end of the month. I'll let you know!

Natalie said...

Tarie, you are such a light in my life... and I am so touched by the idea of making your wonderful list. I must say catching up with you on your blog and through your comments is definitely a joy in my life. My family knows I value your friendship... I hope you know it too :-)

Tarie said...

Natalie... *hug*

If I could only read ONE blog for the rest of my life. (Let's say there was some weird ban/limit on blog reading.) It would be Chickenblog. :)