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.