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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Paperback – April 1, 2009
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-- 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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's a quick and easy read. Sometimes surprising and mostly just a lovely voice.Published 14 hours ago by DDC
Great plot line. Did not expect as much cursing or talk of male self-pleasuring as what occurred. Not sure that it really contributed or was necessary to the overall theme of the... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Michael Mosher
Cute book. I was thoroughly entertained and enjoyed the book the entire time. Quick feel good book.Published 1 day ago by chopping chula
Actually the book - the author, his style of writing- is fantastic! This is someone I would want to know if I had the chance. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Katya