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on April 29, 2017
My 9th grade students have loved this book. It's such a great book for school because it's fun, interesting, feels like an "easy read" but in actuality it hits on so many in-depth themes. Alexie does a great job making it feel authentic and entertaining while also weaving in themes of poverty, racism, alcoholism, family issues, friendships, and so much more. I plan on continuing to use this book in my curriculum.
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on June 4, 2016
My wife bought this book because it deals with a tribe of Native Americans close to home. Alexie is a member of the Spokane tribe writes about himself as a young man who is a bit of a cartoonist. He leaves the reservation "The Rez" to deal with himself. He knows that in order to succeed, staying is not an option. Going from the Rez to a redneck school, Arnold - better known as Junior - becomes the only Native American other than the comical school mascot.

This book hits home about the real world and real life among Native Americans. The options are: Stay on the Rez with the status quo or move out to "white man's land" and become part of that society. Covering as a light comedy, this book offers insight to the reader that isn't normally given. Sherman Alexie writes as though he's been there - that's because he has.
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on July 12, 2017
I originally started reading the book because a local school board had decided that it was inappropriate (apparently they think 9th graders can't handle mildly off color words) and want to ban it. The board president and other conservative members of the board hadn't even read the book but were basing their opinion on a blurb they read. They'd been given months to review it and despite it being a very quick read, they chose to not make the effort.

I was hooked immediately. The author made you feel like you were part of his world even though most us have never been closer to a reservation than seeing advertising for a casino on TV. I recommend this book to anyone with teenagers. They would benefit from seeing the perspective of someone they might not encounter in their everyday life and maybe reevaluate how they treat people from other cultures.
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on October 18, 2017
This is my 3rd reading, and this time, it was with my 14 year old daughter. :-)

I am a Native American Indian, White Mountain Apache, who has grown up on the reservation. I know what poverty is, first hand, and it's reality is what is described in this book. I know what it is like to live on a "Bordertown" and constantly dealing with harassments like, "DWI....Driving While Indian".
Sherman Alexie brings a voice to living on the reservation and the realism of growing up in alcoholism and poverty. But, he also shows the ultimate family unit that Native Americans live by. We live with our Elders, we do not put them in nursing homes. My Grandmother has the same spirit as Arnold's. She is my heroine in this novel.
Also, Native American's love their children fiercely, through every social sin of being Native American. (Social Sin - Alcoholism, poverty and living on a Reservation)
You never know how you impact life, if you never try.
Thank you Sherman Alexie.
Another "Part Time Indian".
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on March 15, 2018
I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian to fulfill the prompt of “A book about or involving a sport” (basketball, in this case) for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. The book had been lingering on my TBR for the past 3 years, and this seemed like a good time to finally get into it.

This semi-autobigraphical YA novel follows the adventures of Arnold Spirit, AKA Junior. Junior is a Spokane Indian who lives on the reservation. Born with hydrocephalus, Junior is a 14-year-old boy who dreams of being a cartoonist, and uses cartoons to deal with his feelings regarding his dysfunctional family, poverty, community, and the world at large.

Arnold’s life changes when he decides he wants to leave the reservation and attend a different school, where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

This book is fairly short, but touches on a lot of topics such as poverty, race relations, alcoholism, enforced governmental segregation, and how one person seeking to better themselves can feel like a betrayal to others in a tight-knit community. It manages to make its points without being preachy, and while maintaining a sense of humor even while navigating losses and tragedies.

The book does dip into (what I would consider typical) 14-year-old boy issues, such as masturbatory skills and the sometimes awkward timing of erections, but isn’t unnecessarily explicit.

4 out of 5 stars.
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on March 8, 2015
Sherman Alexie is one of the finest writers working in America – or anywhere – today. His novels, short stories, and poetry often depict life on Alexie’s home turf, the Spokane Indian Reservation, and his writings are peopled with characters who are desperately real.

In “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” Alexie created an alter-ego, Arnold Spirit (a.k.a. “Junior) who lived on the Spokane “Rez.” Junior was fourteen-years-old at the time of this story, and he had already been to forty-two funerals in his relatively short lifetime. He noted in his diary that most of the deaths were the result of drinking, and he constantly struggled with the impact that alcohol had on his family, friends, and his tribe.

During the span of just a few pages in this novel, Junior chronicled the death of his beloved grandmother who never had a drink in her life but was run down by a drunk Indian as she was walking home from a powwow, the death of his dad’s best friend who was shot in the face and killed in a deadly disagreement with another Indian man over who should get the last drink in the bottle, and the deaths of his older sister and her husband who were passed out drunk in their small trailer and burned to death when someone at their party turned on a hotplate to warm some soup and then forgot to turn it off.

Junior also understood how poverty shaped the lives of him and his friends. Sometimes there was food to eat, sometimes there wasn’t. Sometimes there was gas for his father to take him to school, and sometimes he had to walk and hitchhike. Some years there was money for Christmas gifts, and other years they had to do without – while his father slumped off in shame to get drunk on what little money they did have.

But as imperfect as Junior’s parents might have been – and his father was plenty imperfect – Junior also understood that they loved him. He remarked in the diary that his parents were always in attendance at any school function or game in which he was a participant, and he also noted that some of the white parents (at a school he would later attend) would routinely skip their kids’ programs and games. While life did not deal Junior the best of hands, he recognized the good things and did not wallow in self-pity.

Junior was born with too much cerebral spinal fluid on the brain and had to undergo surgeries and special care as a child. After that rough start, however, he developed into an intelligent boy who liked to read, write, draw cartoons, and play basketball. When he was fourteen he was challenged by a teacher to look beyond the Rez and make something of himself. It was at that point that Junior decided, almost on a whim, that he wanted to leave the Rez school and travel twenty-two miles down the road to a school that was almost entirely white.

It was the move to the new school, Reardan, that led Junior to regard himself as a “part-time” Indian. He was Indian when he was on the Rez, and white when he was at Reardan. Many of his friends on the Rez, such as his best friend, Rowdy, turned their backs on him and regarded him as a traitor to his Indian ethnicity, while, as the outsider at Reardan, it took considerable effort on Junior’s part for him to begin to fit in.

One develops the notion while reading this amazing novel, that Sherman Alexie, a former Rez Indian who now has a very successful life in Seattle, knows that of which he writes.

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” has been banned in some locales and schools probably due in small part because of casual teen discussion of sexual matters like masturbation and erections. But I suspect that some seek to keep others from reading the book because it starkly portrays the racism that original Americans often have to endure, and it shows the overwhelming poverty in which they must survive. The characters are wonderful, warm, and compassionate, but their circumstances are spare and bleak.

Like everything that Sherman Alexie writes, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” is a masterpiece, one that everyone who thinks they understand the breadth and scope of what America really is, in total, should take the time to read. It is, like many other great works of literature, a mirror on who we are as a people - and like many mirror-images, it can be very disturbing.

And great literature, like clear insight, is often disturbing.
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on March 8, 2018
I started reading this book because my 12 year old son was reading it to do a book summary for school. I read the entire book in a 24 hour span. It may be somewhat of a mature book with typical thoughts and actions of a typical young teen and their bodily functions but it will probably be a good life lesson as well as moral lessons. Anyway...
What a great story, it is an emotional roller coaster. This book makes you laugh and cry, makes you feel bad for those on the rez but want to be a part of them and their tough life, makes you glad to be part of the white community and their privilege but embarrassed by our racism and how alone we are in a world full of people.
I want to write more but I do not want to give spoilers even if they are vague. I have a feeling that I will be thinking of this book often and will read it again in the near future.
My best summary I could give is a quote from Junior in the chapter titled "And a Partridge in a Pear Tree"...

"It was a beautiful and ugly thing"
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on October 4, 2015
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is a very good book and a quick read. Starting with the first page, I wanted to keep reading more and I would not put the book down. This story is about a teenager, Junior, living on the Spokane Indian Reservation. It describes his life in the book, and how he is the first Indian from his reservation to go to an all white school. This book is beautifully written with many cartoon pictures to depict Junior's life, because he is a cartoonist.

Since the book is about the life of a teenager, there are some issues that some people may object to. There are some inappropriate parts that many would say are unnecessary such as "Naked woman + right hand = happy happy joy joy", but I think it enhances the book and shows how this teenage boy really feels. There is also discrimination between Junior and all of his white classmates at his new school. They would state racist comments such as "Did you know that Indians are living proof that N***ers F**k buffalo?", but Junior did not let this stop him from living his life, because he knew that if he wanted to make a change in the world, there would be many difficulties he would have to conquer. Even though some parts of the book made me uncomfortable, I had to keep an open mind reading it to be able to understand the lifestyle of a teenage boy. The issues addressed in this book are necessary because they help make the book more descriptive and realistic about how Junior lives his life.

Because of these many issues discussed before, I would recommend this book to mature teenagers and above. They should be able to handle it as long as they are reading it maturely. It teaches you a different perspective on life, and is a great book overall.
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on December 7, 2016
I read this book because so many of my students read it as kids and really enjoyed it. The book is unflinching in its depiction of social reality--alcoholism and violence on the reservation and racism in wealthier, white towns surrounding that reservation while at the same time avoiding easy stereotypes. The characters--white and Native American, male and female--are all three-dimensional and believable, especially the teenage narrator.

More than that, the novel is fun to read. This sounds odd, given the nature of the subjects covered, but Alexie's wit and insight are riveting. I read it through in one night and look forward to reading it again in a few months.
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on December 21, 2015
This book offers a unique window into the mind of teenager Arnold Spirit (aka Junior), an aspiring cartoonist and Spokane who lives "on the rez" in Washington state. Born with a brain condition that makes him the subject of constant bullying from both kids and adults, Junior is desperate to escape from the reservation, where there is no hope for a future. Education is his way out, and he bravely transfers from the reservation school to the all-white high school in a town twenty miles away. Nobody outside his family is happy about Junior's decision, including his best (and only) friend Rowdy and the racist kids at his new school.

I enjoyed reading about Junior/Arnold's struggle to live with a foot in both worlds, although the gritty poverty Junior faces at home was often hard to digest. However, Junior's voice shines through with such humor that even the darkest passages are tempered with hope.
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