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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Paperback – April 1, 2009
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"This is a gem of a book....may be [Sherman Alexie's] best work yet."―New York Times
"A Native American equivalent of Angela's Ashes."―(starred review), Publishers Weekly
"Sure to resonate and lift spirits of all ages for years to come."―USA Today
"Realistic and fantastical and funny and tragic-all at the same time."―(starred review), VOYA
"The line between dramatic monologue, verse novel, and standup comedy gets unequivocally-and hilariously and triumphantly-bent in this novel."―(starred review), Horn Book
"Nimbly blends sharp with unapologetic emotion....fluid narration deftly mingles raw feelings with funny, sardonic insight."―Kirkus Reviews, (starred review)
"Few writers are more masterful than Sherman Alexie."―Los Angeles Times
"Alexie's humor and prose are easygoing and well suited to his young audience."―Booklist
"Fierce observations and sharp sense of humor...hilarious language."―Newsday
"Breathtakingly honest, funny, profane, sad....will stay with readers."―(starred review), KLIATT
About the Author
A National Book Award-winning author, poet, and filmmaker, Sherman has been named one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists and has been lauded by The Boston Globe as "an important voice in American literature." He is one of the most well known and beloved literary writers of his generation, with works such as The Long Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and Reservation Blues and has received numerous awards and citations, including the PEN/Malamud Award for Fiction and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award.
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After receiving the email from my child's teacher, I read the book cover to cover. And I couldn't believe that out of all the amazing books available for our kids to read, this is the one that was chosen. The material is so objectionable that I don't even feel comfortable letting the teacher know the specific passages I object to. Amazon won't even let me post them, so I've replaced some content with asterisks. If I can't reference passages from an assigned book, then that's a big red flag. It is also difficult for me to reference the passages in this review. But since our kids are being exposed to it, and since many reading this review may have students who will be assigned this book, I'll highlight some of the objectionable passages in my review.
p. 26 "Yep, that's right. I admit that I m*********. I'm proud of it. I'm good at it. I'm ambidextrous. If there were a Professional M*********** League, I'd get drafted number one and make millions of dollars. And maybe you're thinking, 'Well, you really shouldn't be talking about m*********** in public.' Well, tough, I'm going to talk about it because EVERYBODY does it. And EVERYBODY likes it. And if God hadn't wanted us to m*********, then God wouldn't have given us thumbs. So I thank God for my thumbs."
p.64 "Did you know that Indians are living proof that n******[derogatory term] f*** buffalo?"
p. 122 "And I imagined that every girl was immediately breathless and h**** at the sight of my bell-bottom slacks.
p. 173 (A passage I don't feel comfortable repeating. )
p.190 "Penelope was yelling and screaming like crazy, too. I waved at her; she blew me a kiss. Great, now I was going to have to play the game with a b****."
p. 201-2 "And the thing is, Miss Warren was hugging me so tight that I was pretty sure she could feel my, er, physical reaction. I was kind of proud, you know? 'Arnold, I'm sorry,' she said. 'But I just got a phone call from your mother. It's your sister. She's passed away.'...I was stunned. But I wasn't sad. The grief didn't hit me right away. No, I was mostly ashamed of my, er, physical reaction to the hug. Yep, I had a big e******* when I learned of my sister's death. How perverted is that? How inappropriately hormonal can one boy be?"
p. 224-5 "As we walked, I saw that monster pine tree ahead of us. It was so tall and green and beautiful. It was the only reservation skyscraper, you know? 'I love that tree,' I said. 'That's because you're a tree f**,' Rowdy said. 'I'm not a tree f**,' I said. 'Then how come you like to stick your d*** inside knot-holes?' 'I stick my d*** in the girl trees,' I said."
According to the American Library Association, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was the #1 most banned or challenged book in 2014. Reasons the ALA included for why this book has been banned or challenged: "anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: 'depictions of bullying'."
1. The protagonist is too similar to all of those annoying protagonists in young adult fiction today. They are all Holden-Caulfield wanna-bes that sound too much like an adult is trying to sound like a teenager. I knew that somewhere in the story a reference to Catcher in the Rye would appear, and it did. I wanted an original voice in this genre, not a rehashing of a tired one. Just because Arnold is an Indian does not make an original voice. He sounds like the kids in King Dork and Perks of Being a Wallflower.
2. The story was too far fetched. His first day of school. His crush. His friendship with Rowdy. The deaths around him.
3. The short sentences that are paragraphs of themselves. The entire book was filled with them.
It was annoying.
Yes, quite annoying.
These short sentences are like Alexie thinks his audience is filled with idiots.
We're not, you know.
Readers, including teenagers, are capable of reading more than a one-sentence paragraph.