38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Arnold Spirit's Spirit Soars,
This review is from: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (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. Junior brings all the suffering and issues of Native Americans around the US and makes them real while pouring out his heart about his troubles adjusting to two worlds. He had me laughing out loud and wiping my eyes at the same time.
I can't believe this is renowned author Sherman Alexie's first novel for teens! He has such a crisp voice, it's hard not to be pulled into his narrator's world. My only gripe would be that I wanted to know more about Junior's family, especially his beloved grandma (who reminds me a lot of my own). Either way, you'll cheer for Junior throughout the novel. If you don't, I'll have to stick up for him.