The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

Alexie, S. (2007). The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian. NY: Little Brown.

Junior is a kid growing up on an Indian Reservation in Spokane Washington. Life is hard there. No one has much money, and nothing ever seems to change – so much so that Junior realizes that he is using the exact same algebra textbook that his mother had – her name is right there in his book. This is a turning point for Junior, with the urging of his teacher he makes the choice to leave the Rez School and go to Reardon, the all-white school in the next town over. Through all of Junior’s struggles – being ostracized by his friends for being a traitor to the tribe; death – so many deaths in such a short amount of time; falling in love; finding new friends; he learns to stay true to himself and make the changes in his life that lead him to become, as Rowdy says, a nomadic Indian who would have a different life than those who stayed behind on the reservation. This book made me laugh, cry, and cringe. Junior is so honest and funny you can’t help but laugh, but after losing his best friend, Grandmother Spirit, almost uncle Eugene, and his sister, I was so sad that I cried. Some of the language and insults that Junior and Rowdy exchange are definitely cringe worthy, although I am positive that they are spot on as far as how teenage boys act around each other. I would recommend this to kids in 6th grade and up, particularly boys looking for humor and inspiration.


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