Sherman Alexie

Diaries and Indians

by Lara Killian

7 July 2009

 

A long weekend in summer is a great opportunity to spend some quality time with a good book. In the the US this past weekend, I’m sure lots of people took advantage of the three day weekend to relax with a good read. Did you?

I just finished reading Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian (2007). The book is three-quarters young adult diary-style musings and 25 percent cartoon illustrations to add emphasis to the trials and tribulations of Junior, the protagonist.

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Alexie has written an outstanding account of bravery in the face of racism, and with a sense of humor that comes through in unflinching prose as well as the accompanying cartoons. Junior draws to ease his discomfort at not fitting into the reservation community where he has grown up and where his childhood classmates feel his loyalties should lie, and his difficulty in assimilating into the white middle-class school down the road.

Part-time Indian is a fast read, and completely captivating. By looking at his future horizon rather than getting totally discouraged by his present poverty, Junior proves to everyone around him the value of striving to succeed even when no one has managed it before.

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