The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is the story of Junior, a Native American teenager, fed up with the limited opportunities offered to him on his reservation, who makes the decision to transfer to the nearby white school. The book chronicles the joys and pains of being an Native American living on a reservation, the challenges of an adolescent searching for his identity, familial relationships and friendships, and the hope needed to believe and seek a better life.

This is the second book that I have read by Sherman Alexie. I first encountered his work in college when I read The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven in my Native American history class. I appreciated his unique voice and was excited when I came across Part-Time Indian when selecting a novel for my students. This is Alexie's first venture into YA fiction and it has proven to be a success in the classroom.

The book is loosely based on the experiences of Alexie himself and landed itself on the 2013 Most Banned Books list. I suspect that is for a few reasons: heavy topics (alcoholism, racism, eating disorders), language, and sexual references. Regardless, this book was an incredibly enjoyable read. Junior is a unique, interesting, and relatable character. His voice is believable as a teenager and the illustrations (done by Ellen Forney) add an interesting and humorous aspect to the novel. Alexie offers a perspective on themes that are universal - friendship, family, identity, hope - and yet unique to each of us, seen through the eyes of a teenage boy. I found myself experiencing a myriad of emotions - amusement, sadness, joy, and at the end hope. I highly recommend this novel.   

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