Toby's Reviews > The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
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's review
Feb 06, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: audio, children-s-award-winner
Read in February, 2009

Winner of the 2009 Odyssey Award for best audiobook as well as the 2007 National Book Award. This is the story of a Spokane Indian boy who refuses to allow his deficits - both physical and cultural - to determine his future. Arnold Spirit copes with life on the Rez by drawing cartoons, an important feature of the print book but absent, of course, in the audiobook. The cartoons add lightness to some of Arnold's observations about life. He notes, for example, that his white friends at school can count the number of funerals they've attended on one hand, while he needs every possible body part, including his penis, to count up the 42 funerals he's attended in his 14 years.
Instead of cartoons, the author's earnest, honest, lilting voice makes the comic text sound bemused and bittersweet, and the diary becomes a conversation between Arnold and the listener. In either print or audio, this is a 5 star book, full of wisdom, unique figurative language ("Gay people are like Swiss army knives" - you will probably need to read the book to figure that one out), and a positive attitude that overcomes all obstacles.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Patricia I am hooked on the audio. On the L I just start laughing, and his phraseology is so unique, somewhat self-defacing, but not really. I think my mind likes the pacing and close to monotone of the Native American oral tradition. When I heard Shanto Begay speak, I was mesmerized, found myself back on the mesa camping. Both speak at a pace that is soothing and makes me stop rushing and start reflecting. I suppose librarians love the "metaphorical boner" that one gets around all the great books in the library. I knew nothing about Alexie, but now I want to read come of his adult books too. I also have the printed book on my to read list, and will leave it there so I can see the cartoons he does.

Toby I didn't think about how Alexie's sing-song audio style is similar to traditional Native American storytelling, thanks for pointing it out. I wonder as you read what you think the point-of-view is accurate or too old for a 14-year-old?

Patricia 14? Maybe we would THINK the voice too old, but kids think pretty deeply starting about age 11. Not all kids of course, but I am amazed at some of the sensitive writing I read from my sixth graders. When parents read what kids write, they too have a raised level of respect for kids. Besides, isn't the narrator "looking back" on the experience? So he is writing as he remembered thinking through things. And in high school he had plenty of time to think during that walk to and from, just like Abe.

Patricia PLUS I want to meet this guy! I feel like I learn so much when I hear author's speak.

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