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on July 10, 2013
OMG. This book is a great read for kids from 8-98. I love Sherman Alexie. All I can say about this funny, tender, frank, concise book is: love it! He makes me want to write a book. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Novel-Ties Teachers Study Guide)
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on March 1, 2013
From the description of this book and the notoriety of the author, one expects The Absolutely True Diary to be heavy--weighed down by societal issues, controversial topics, and generally dense material.

But it's not. Diary is intensely readable. Once you fall into Junior's head, it seems almost effortless to read this book.

But Alexie is so deceiving. He talks about zits and pretty white girls and basketball woes one minute, then throws in a racial slur or two, an unexpected and tragic death, and general heartbreak another minute. But still, the narrative does not slow. Still Junior keeps his composure. Still the book is readable and enjoyable at that.

The characters in Diary seemed doomed to live their lives according to their circumstances: those born poor and Indian will die poor and Indian. Those born rich and white will die rich and white. Those born ignorant will die ignorant.

And just when it seems like one of them managed to escape, (Junior attending Reardan rather than the Rez school, his sister Mary following her true love to Montana), they fall right back into their innate conditions again.

The complications that arise when these characters try to break free from their social circumstances show that Diary is not simply an issue novel, because no issues are solved. The closest that the novel comes to a resolution is with Junior and Rowdy's relationship, but even this is not cut-and-dry.

At some points, the honesty of Diary is exhausting. It's difficult to know what to do when 13 year old Junior says with a straight face:

"It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor," (13).

"I don't know if hope is white. But I do know that hope for me is like some kind of mythical creature," (51).

"'Just remember this,' my father said. 'Those white people aren't better than you.' But he was so wrong. And he knew he was wrong. He was the Indian father of a loser Indian son living in a world built for winners," (55).

"There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make that pain go away," (107)

"I was half Indian in one place and half white in the other. It was like being Indian was my job, but it was only a part-time job. And it didn't pay very well," (118).

With such constant honesty, it's difficult to take a consistent message from Diary, to know what to glean from the text.

However, perhaps Diary's greatest success is the authenticity of Junior. The reader can never second-guess Junior's narrative, because he doesn't leave anything out. He is a true protagonist and through him, Alexie delivers a true portrait of a modern Native American existence that is as heartbreaking as it is readable.
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on November 25, 2013
Written to encourage Native American youth literacy, this Sherman Alexie story captures the interest of all races and ages. Alexie especially uses well-crafted dialogue to capture the reservation life and the life of any boy or young man. Devastating events, hurtful accounts, life-threatening actions - all were treated in a matter-of-fact method that reflects true life on the "Rez". Having grown up next to the Coeur d'Alene reservation, and having taught many years on the Yakima and Colville reservations; I can say that much of this seemed familiar and poignant. As a teacher I can recommend this guide.

Although there were many sad parts to this story; there were also many light and positive events that reflect the life of a young man - sports, friendships, and the love of family. I recommend this book for readers of all ages.

I firmly believe teachers should read the book to their classes, or assign this book and, at the very least, provide it for interested students. In any event, the teacher' edition is invaluable.
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on February 21, 2013
I realize I should have read a little closer when purchasing, but this product is labeled as The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by SHERMAN ALEXIE, when in fact, the product is a study guide. I would never have even clicked on the product had it been properly labeled. I am completely disappointed and frustrated because I have to read the NOVEL by Tuesday and all I have is this study guide, which is completely useless to me. READ PRODUCT DESCRIPTION BEFORE YOU BUY.
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on June 13, 2013
Note: This is a review of the novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, not the teacher study guide. It was originally posted in the right place but, due to an Amazon glitch, it is now here for some reason.

I admit that, from the very first page, I read this book with a skeptical eye. Prior to reading this novel, I had nothing against Sherman Alexie, but I'm not such a fan of adolescent literature as a genre. My suspicion stems from my encounters with a growing trend, popular among professors, colleagues and administrators I've worked with, that aims to supplement, and even supplant, classic literature on high school curricula with adolescent selections like this one. It's something my high school is seriously considering at this moment and has already begun to do so with summer reading. Why? Because Shakespeare, Wolfe, Joyce, Kafka, Achebe, Tolstoy, Hurston, etc., are no longer deemed relevant to today's teens. What could a teen possibly learn from some dead Russian guy? If this book is in any way representative of adolescent literature as a genre and this trend continues to garner support from educators, we are in a world of trouble, and I'm quitting the teaching profession for good.

So, what specifically did I dislike about this book?

1) It's too shallow for high schoolers and too vulgar for junior highers. And the vulgarity is gratuitous. It didn't strike me as having any purpose other than to shock some teens and get them to think, "This book is cool, man! Shakespeare never uses the f-word!!" Is anyone edified by reading about the nocturnal addictions of a teen boy? Has our culture really become so debased? This book won several awards! I simply cannot believe it.

2) In both subtle and not-so-subtle ways, it promotes inappropriate, immature, unethical behavior. It glorifies stealing by making it seem funny and quirky. It encourages the attitude that "cursing is cool." And, worst of all, it exploits people with disabilities. An author is not free to get laughs at the expense of individuals suffering from disabilities simply because the hero of his novel is physically disabled.

3) Lastly, I find it so annoyingly ironic that some of the most politically correct folks out there, who are the first pay lip service to cherishing the diversity of ideas present throughout the world, so often take advantage of any opportunity they can to malign, mock and condemn Christianity. Christianity seems to be the only set of ideas out there that people can ridicule without being arrested by the politically correct thought police. And, many times, these people are so ignorant of what Christianity is all about. That irritates me to no end, and this book provides classic examples of that.

Adamant supporters of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian insist that this novel, and young adult literature in general, provides accessible and relevant platforms for teenagers to grapple with their most pressing existential issues---issues relating to identity, sexuality, longing, and loneliness. As an educator who is now also a parent, I would never discourage young people from engaging in close examinations of themselves and the world around them. But, why must this be done in the most irreverent, flippant, "Bevis and Butthead" kind of way? Aren't teenagers capable of more? As a young reader, some of my darkest and most enthralling forays into the human condition were made possible by classic literature, which also exposes young people to beautiful writing and complex characterization.

Other supporters of this novel argue that its infectious hilarity makes kids actually want to read. Yes, that's true. It will make them want to read more---but only more novels like this one, and that's about it, I suspect.

I'm open to being corrected on this point, but I think this book, and adolescent literature as a whole, sells teens short. Maybe it's fun, but it's not that sophisticated, and it doesn't provide the rite of passage into adulthood that classic literature does. Can it be used as a bridge to more intellectual reading? Maybe. But should it replace the classics? Absolutely not. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone--not my adult friends, not my students, and, most certainly, not my own kids.

It makes me want to say this to the teens: "You wanna stay in teen world? Read this book. You wanna grow up? Read some Dostoevsky. That will put some hair on your chests!"
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