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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Hardcover – September 12, 2007


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (September 12, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316013684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316013680
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (694 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 7–10—Exploring Indian identity, both self and tribal, Alexie's first young adult novel is a semiautobiographical chronicle of Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, a Spokane Indian from Wellpinit, WA. The bright 14-year-old was born with water on the brain, is regularly the target of bullies, and loves to draw. He says, "I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats." He expects disaster when he transfers from the reservation school to the rich, white school in Reardan, but soon finds himself making friends with both geeky and popular students and starting on the basketball team. Meeting his old classmates on the court, Junior grapples with questions about what constitutes one's community, identity, and tribe. The daily struggles of reservation life and the tragic deaths of the protagonist's grandmother, dog, and older sister would be all but unbearable without the humor and resilience of spirit with which Junior faces the world. The many characters, on and off the rez, with whom he has dealings are portrayed with compassion and verve, particularly the adults in his extended family. Forney's simple pencil cartoons fit perfectly within the story and reflect the burgeoning artist within Junior. Reluctant readers can even skim the pictures and construct their own story based exclusively on Forney's illustrations. The teen's determination to both improve himself and overcome poverty, despite the handicaps of birth, circumstances, and race, delivers a positive message in a low-key manner. Alexie's tale of self-discovery is a first purchase for all libraries.—Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Arnold Spirit, a goofy-looking dork with a decent jumpshot, spends his time lamenting life on the "poor-ass" Spokane Indian reservation, drawing cartoons (which accompany, and often provide more insight than, the narrative), and, along with his aptly named pal Rowdy, laughing those laughs over anything and nothing that affix best friends so intricately together. When a teacher pleads with Arnold to want more, to escape the hopelessness of the rez, Arnold switches to a rich white school and immediately becomes as much an outcast in his own community as he is a curiosity in his new one. He weathers the typical teenage indignations and triumphs like a champ but soon faces far more trying ordeals as his home life begins to crumble and decay amidst the suffocating mire of alcoholism on the reservation. Alexie's humor and prose are easygoing and well suited to his young audience, and he doesn't pull many punches as he levels his eye at stereotypes both warranted and inapt. A few of the plotlines fade to gray by the end, but this ultimately affirms the incredible power of best friends to hurt and heal in equal measure. Younger teens looking for the strength to lift themselves out of rough situations would do well to start here. Chipman, Ian

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Customer Reviews

Sherman Alexie is funny, and can he write!
"luke2004"
This is a theme that Alexie deals with in "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian."
Kelly
Wow, I love the book just too much to read from cover to cover in one night!
Kid

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

155 of 175 people found the following review helpful By Richie Partington VINE VOICE on September 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Mr. President you ought to know that this nation is more a 'Tale of Two Cities' than it is just a 'Shining City on a Hill.' "
-- Mario Cuomo, 1984 National Democratic Convention Keynote Address

"It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you're poor because you're stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you're stupid and ugly because you're Indian. And because you're Indian you start believing you're destined to be poor. It's an ugly circle and there's nothing you can do about it.

So opines high school student and sometime cartoonist Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, who is despondent as his father prepares to shoot Arnold's suffering dog because there is no money to pay for a veterinarian's services. But a math teacher -- whose nose is broken when Arnold, in his frustration, angrily throws his generations-old math book --endeavors to change Arnold's sense of helplessness:

" 'You can't give up. You won't give up. You threw that book in my face because somewhere inside you refuse to give up.'
"I didn't know what he was talking about. Or maybe I just didn't want to know.
"Jeez, it was a lot of pressure to put on a kid. I was carrying the burden of my race, you know? I was going to get a bad back from it.
" 'If you stay on this rez,' Mr. P said, 'they're going to kill you. I'm going to kill you. We're all going to kill you. You can't fight us forever.'
" 'I don't want to fight anybody.' I said.
" 'You've been fighting since you were born,' he said. 'You fought off that brain surgery. You fought off those seizures. You fought off all the drunks and drug addicts. You kept your hope. And now, you have to take your hope and go somewhere where other people have hope.
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92 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Debra Garfinkle on October 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For a story about an impoverished teen on an Indian reservation who has an alcoholic father and faces bullies and racism and the deaths of several close relatives, I sure laughed a lot. I loved the written humor and the wonderful cartoons throughout the book, as well as learning something about life on a reservation. I finished this fast-paced book in two days and was sorry to see it end. This is one of my favorite young adult novels of 2007.
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65 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Ron Franscell, Author of 'The Darkest Night' on May 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"Deep in the heart of the heart of every Indian man's heart, he believes he is Crazy Horse," Sherman Alexie writes in "The Toughest Indian in the World," his new collection of renegade short stories. And that might mean, um, you are Custer.
Or it might just mean Alexie wants you to understand the pride and rage behind these nine lyrical, rebellious, sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking stories, where Indians find themselves between worlds, between lives, and between loves.
Fiction writers simulate real life, they don't really bottle it. Alexie is one of the best American writers of any color today, but not because he writes about Indians as an Indian. Rather, it's because he observes the multi-colored light of *human* existence through indigenous eyes. His prism is a valuable cultural artifact on this reservation we call America.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Sam on October 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've always been a fan of Sherman Alexie, so when I saw this book was written for the young adult marketplace, I took a chance. Without reading it myself first, I brought it in and read it to my class (7th and 8th graders). They loved it. They were excited, enthralled, amused and heartbroken by it. More importantly, after reading it, I had a line of kids (most of whom are generally non-readers) wanting to borrow the book to read it again. To Mr. Alexie, a teacher's highest praise: You made my students want to read.
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58 of 68 people found the following review helpful By J. L. Porter on March 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Filled with Alexi's trademark beautiful and straightforward prose, Part-Time Indian tells the story of Arnold, a Spokane Indian trying to better his life beyond the confines of his race and his circumstance. This is a moving story filled with wonderful storytelling moments and thrilling scenes. While I finished the book wanting more, which is a good thing, although I also felt that some of the most interesting aspects of Arnold's character (dealing with his disability, his physical "difference" from kids in his new school, his determination to get beyond the rez, his being an artist, etc.) were dropped in favor of a tidier conclusion. In the end, the book leaves us centering on his relationship to his best friend, his ability to move on and at the same time leave the reservation behind. However effective the symbolism, I wanted more in the way of Arnold's coming of age. This is a gratifying read, in part because there are such beautiful moments, but I prefer books in which the character details affect the narrative more powerfully. Arnold is a fascinating character, and I felt that he was reduced, simplified by the end's tidy message. This may be knit-picking, but although I love Ellen Forney, I thought the "voice" of the cartoons was not exactly in sync with that of the main character. The cartoons are very clever and they add to the humor in this otherwise very funny book, but they felt like they were authored by someone other than Arnold.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Leah on September 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
TATDOAPTI may be a teen fiction book and I have been out of that awkward phase of life for five years, but I could not resist this story of a contemporary Walter Mitty transplanted in the heart of a Washington reservation. In Sherman Alexie's narrator, there's a boundless energy and a high-strung desire to prove the system--and the world--wrong when it comes to Native Americans.

Arnold (known as Junior) Spirit is an aspiring cartoonist (samples of his work can be found throughout the book) has a plethora of problems: he has medical issues ranging from poor eyesight and a past onset of seizures, one friend, and a troubled yet loving family. His world gets upturned when a teacher tells him to get off the reservation, not figuratively, but psychologically and spiritually. Junior's never had someone inform him of his full potential to be something other than "another troubled drunken Indian," so when the chance comes to transfer to a good school in the middle of a racist town outside his home, Junior leaps at the chance.

While there, Junior struggles with the mere fact that he's a Native American in a sea of white students and teachers; this fact continues to plague him when his friend turns his back on him and his whole reservation thinks he's a sell-out. But Junior, Lord bless him, is determined to make a name for himself, and even finds a little romance, convoluted as it is, and makes a few friends who help him expand his mind and reach his goals.

Narrated like random passages from a journal (hence the title), I have nothing but love for this funny, sweet, and conflicted boy. If he were older, I would totally go out with him. But, since he is a character in a novel, all I can say is he is a wonderful voice for a life that no one notices.
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