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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
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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, IanSee all Editorial Reviews
Though written for young people, this book quickly moved to my top ten list. Alexie's semi-autobiographical novel will make you cry one moment and laugh the next, and its... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Betti G.
My favorite of Sherman Alexie, The characters are genuine, the writing captures a life worth knowing about. It's a great book, and I'm actually re-reading it right now.Published 2 days ago by Iam57
Some of the light heartedness of the other books are not as prevalent. But the ability to sum up a character and experience with a few powerful words based on a keen observation... Read morePublished 2 days ago by MK
Sherman Alexie is better known for his movies....but this book provides the basis for his work....from an insider's viewpoint, of American Indian's difficulties inside the tribe... Read morePublished 2 days ago by jim
I recommend this book, it gives you mixed emotions about the authors opinions and the scenarios he's telling. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Tammy P.S.
I absolutely loved this book! I know this is supposedly a "young adult" novel, but that doesn't mean adults can't enjoy it as well. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Mama Rara
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian tells the story of a high school age, Native American boy who is an excellent student and is advised by one of his teachers to leave... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Steven R. Lindahl
I absolutely loved this book. It's a perfect mix of reality and imagination as well as tragedy and comedy. Read morePublished 12 days ago by sendatsu