Retro Reads: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianAuthor: Sherman Alexie
Publisher/Year: Little, Brown, 2007
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: Library book (Follett bound)
Source: Library, gift
Date Read: Fall 2009
Original review (Fall 2009):
Funny! And left me feeling good, despite the rough and tough situations Junior has faced (and will face…life is not going to get better on the rez).
Junior’s life sucks. As a bright high school student growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation (the rez), he faces a lot of depressing situations: actual depression, alcoholism, runaways, drug addiction, poverty, and violence, to name a few. To escape, Junior starts attending a white school in the nearest town off the rez. He plays basketball and tries to make some friends, but ultimately has a hard time forming identities in two different spheres of life. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is Junior’s journal and cartoons telling his journey to a better life for himself.
What makes this book so awesome are three things: truth, realism, and humor. It’s no secret that ATDoaPTI is a frequently challenged book for its portrayals of the gritty life of a teenage boy. Alexie based it on his own real experiences, and he doesn’t pretty those up for us. Life isn’t pretty. Life is sometime hypocritical, racist, homophobic, and hyper-sexual. Teenage boys (and girls!) can be all of those things as they figure out the world and their own personal identities. However, as readers we give Junior some wiggle room. He’s likable. He’s funny. He has something to say, a journey to tell, and we want to hear it. His art, his hopefulness, his humor, and his honesty are what make this book one that stands out in YA lit. Alexie can tell a story, and that’s why ATDoaPTI has won multiple awards and is taught in high school classrooms across the country.
FINAL GRADE: A I know. My praise is a little intense. But what can I say? I love a book that can actually reach teenagers. This is that book. It’s engaging, but it has substance. It’s relateable, but can spark thoughtful conversations and questions. I gladly purchased this book for my middle school library and would definitely recommend it for both high school libraries AND for classroom teaching. Be prepared by knowing it has been frequently challenged and by familiarizing yourself with the ALA’s information on school censorship and NCTE’s position statements on censorship (including the Student’s Right to Read). Beyond the classroom, I recommend this book to all readers, regardless of age or genre preferences. Yes. It’s THAT kind of book. Read away!
What are your thoughts on ATDoaPTI? Have you read it? Plan to read it?
Posted on February 4, 2013, in books, librarian, teacher, websites and tagged 50 books 2010, favorite books, Grade: A, humor, realistic fiction, retro reads, snark, ya. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.