Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Rate this book
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

With a foreward by Markus Zusak & interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney

230 pages, Hardcover

First published September 12, 2007

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Sherman Alexie

121 books6,027 followers
Sherman J. Alexie, Jr., was born in October 1966. A Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, he grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA, about 50 miles northwest of Spokane, WA. Alexie has published 18 books to date.

Alexie is an award-winning and prolific author and occasional comedian. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a modern Native American. Sherman's best known works include The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Smoke Signals, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
102,308 (39%)
4 stars
95,512 (37%)
3 stars
42,216 (16%)
2 stars
11,862 (4%)
1 star
5,854 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 26,462 reviews
Profile Image for Jess.
2,445 reviews68 followers
May 7, 2018
2018 update - with all of the women coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment from Alexie, I'm no longer comfortable with the glowing review I originally wrote. I still think the book is fantastic, but I don't think the same of its author, and I can't promote his writing with any enthusiasm. I'll leave the original review below.

I kinda got on the Sherman Alexie bandwagon, as an undergrad, when all freshmen were required to read his The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven. I liked it. Put it next to Plato’s Republic and it was pretty damn exciting. But I didn’t go out and gobble up all this other books. Plus I’m not the hugest fan of short stories. But you know me, I’m a sucker for YA. And for YA that everyone’s been raving about. And that wins the National Book Award.

Here’s one of my favorite things about the book: almost everything that makes you laugh is also heartbreaking. This in no way makes it less funny, or less sad. It’s both, perfectly, at once. Just like the times when Junior is heartbroken but can’t. stop. laughing.

Also, Junior is a book kisser.

I grabbed my book and opened it up.
I wanted to smell it.
Heck, I wanted to kiss it.
Yes, kiss it.
That’s right, I’m a book kisser.
Maybe that’s kind of perverted or maybe it’s just romantic and highly intelligent.

While it certainly packs a punch, it’s a quick, engaging read and I think it would be equally engaging to high schoolers and adults. It’s one I could pick up and read through again, if I didn’t have so many others waiting for me.

Also, the 1 and 2 star reviews on Amazon are pretty diverting. “The protagonist is too similar to all of those annoying protagonists in young adult fiction today,” says the 1 star. Yes, they’re all so annoying aren’t they? They’re not, you know, struggling with figuring out who they are and what their place is in the world. They don’t have problems with friends or family or school or themselves. They’re simply annoying. Oh, teenagers. Both reviews pick on the Catcher in the Rye similarities, but honestly I never thought of Catcher until Junior mentioned it on his list of favorite books. Along with The Grapes of Wrath. And Feed. And Fat Kid Rules the World. And Invisible Man. And some others that I haven’t read. But really, I was more struck by the inclusion of Steinbeck and Ellison than the others - you have poverty and you have race, pretty squarely represented. Issues that are much more emphasized, I would say, than any similarities to Holden.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews154k followers
December 9, 2020

Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community.
Junior, a teenager on the Spokane Indian Reservation (the "rez"), spent his entire life trying to blend in.

He was a smallish kid who used to have seizures. He was picked on and bullied almost constantly.

And then...something snapped.
There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away.
Junior realized that he was going nowhere fast and the only way to get out was to literally...get out.

He transfers to an all-white rural school (with a lovely Indian mascot) and everything changes.

Well...sort of.

He's still hated at his old school but now instead of being picked on for his size and health issues, he gets to be picked on for being a traitor.

But no matter what is said or what is thrown at him, Junior decides that he will make it out there. No. Matter. What.
If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing.
Overall - I liked this book and that makes the drama with the author all the more disappointing.

Junior was funny and crude and hilarious and above all, real. So very real.
I was studying the sky like I was an astronomer, except it was daytime and I didn't have a telescope, so I was just an idiot.
Sometimes, you wish the authors could live up to the characters they write.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Brina.
887 reviews4 followers
August 3, 2016
Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a short novel labeled young adult but more appropriate for adult audiences. A mere 230 pages including comic sketches, Alexie details the plight of Arnold aka Junior, a 14 year old Spokane Indian living on a reservation. Born with brain damage to alcoholic parents, Junior was never given a chance by anyone to succeed. It did not help that in his tribe, no one left the reservation. The Spokane Indians would spend their entire lives on the "rez" in poverty. Most kids would attend more funerals mainly alcohol related by the one they start high school than most adults do in a lifetime. But Arnold wanted something more. Arnold wanted a chance at achieving his dreams.
A quarter of the way into his freshman year of high school, Arnold tells his parents he would like to attend Reardan High School 22 miles away. Just like that, his parents agree to this request even though they realize that it will be a hardship on them. Most of the time, his parents have no money to get him to school and he hitchhikes. Yet, Arnold is determined to succeed even if it means being labeled white by his tribe including his best friend Rowdy and Indian or outsider by the rest of his school.
Arnold had two things going for him- his brains and basketball. His coach took notice of him and placed him on varsity as a freshman. Earning the respect from head jock Roger and head brain Gordy as well semi- girl friend Penelope, Arnold slowly becomes part of Reardan's inner circle. Through his good grades and stellar play on the basketball court, the other students do not label Arnold as "that Indian kid" by the end of the school year.
Filled with teenage angst and dealing with mature themes such as death to loved ones and alcoholism, this book has been banned in many communities. Despite the comics that made me laugh, this is not a book that I would want my kids to read until they are mature enough to handle it. Yet, this is a powerful book for adults, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a glimpse into contemporary life on an Indian reservation, which is unfortunately not only the glitz of the casinos that we hear about. Alexie from this short book appears to be a gifted writer, as this won a notable book award. I look forward to reading more of his works, as well as his documentary film Smoke Signals.
Profile Image for Swrp.
561 reviews108 followers
August 6, 2021
“Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor.”

Heart-breaking, yet heart-warming and uplifting.
So authentic, very humane and touches deep in the heart.

This story presents, in general, the difficulties of living through poverty, all the impoverishment associated with family and societal issues, and the will and desire to continue to follow the heart and endeavour to fulfil one`s aspirations. The specific focus is on the struggles of Native Americans to live a quality and fulfilled life, in a world dominated and controlled by others. It speaks of the ethnic imbalance, social injustice and also domestic issues.

[©Ellen Forney, nytimes.com]

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is the story of 14-year-old aspiring cartoonist Arnold Spirit `Junior`. Narrated by Junior, this book is about his life on the Indian reservation of the Spokane people and then when he decides to leave the reservation to join a white-dominated school, Reardan High School.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a part-true and semi-autobiographical account of a real Indian, the author Sherman Alexie. Sherman Alexie grew up in the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington and as the author stated much of the book is true and is based on real-life incidents.


Spokane people, also known as `People of the Sun`, are a Native American tribe, who have for thousands of years lived near the Spokane River, which is in the states of Washington and Idaho of the USA. As per the last census report, their current population is 2,708. Their religion is Washani, also known as the Dreamer cult. This cult is a combination of traditional Indian spirituality of dances, quests and feasts, and also a few aspects of Christianity. It seems one of their beliefs is the `disappearance of the whites`.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
November 22, 2021
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a novel by Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Ellen Forney.

The book won several awards, and was the first young adult fiction work by Alexie, a stand-up comedian, screenwriter, film producer, and songwriter who has previously written adult novels, short stories, poems, and screenplays. Alexie stated, "I [wrote the book] because so many librarians, teachers, and teenagers kept asking me to write one."

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «خاطرات صددرصد واقعی یک سرخپوست پاره‌ وقت»؛ «خاطرات کاملا حقیقی یک سرخپوست نیمه وقت»؛ نویسنده: شرمن الکسی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: بیست و ششم ماه فوریه سال2011میلادی

عنوان: خاطرات صددرصد واقعی یک سرخپوست پاره‌ وقت؛ نویسنده: شرمن الکسی؛ مترجم: رضی هیرمندی؛ تهران، افق، سال1390، در277ص، مصور، شابک9789643697471؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده21م

عنوان دیگر: خاطرات کاملا حقیقی یک سرخپوست نیمه وقت، با ترجمه سعید توانایی مروی، در انتشارات افراز و در سال1388هجری خورشیدی چاپ و نشر یافته است

فهرست: «باشگاه چشم کبو‌د‌ها»؛ «چرا مرغ این‌همه برای من مهم است؟»؛ «انتقام جزئی از اسم من است»؛ «هندسه همچین الکی نیست»؛ «امید در برابر امید»؛ «وقتی باید بری برو»؛ «چه‌طور باید با هیولاها جنگید»؛ «مشورت با مادربزرگ»؛ «هالووین»؛ «درمانده و آس و پاس پیش به‌سوی عید شکرگزاری»؛ «خواهرم ایمیل می‌فرستد»؛ «درد و رنج گرسنگی»؛ «رقص، رقص، رقص»؛ «به کامپیوترت اعتماد نکن»؛ «بازی نفس‌گیر»؛ «چیزی که عیان است چه حاجت به بیان است»؛ «مراسم شب عزل»؛ «قلب والنتین»؛ «مثل شیر وسط میدان»؛ «من و راودی درباره‌ی بسکتبال بحث جدی و دورودرازی داشتیم»؛ «کارنامه‌ی سال اول دبیرستان»؛ «حالا که حرف لاک‌پشت‌ها شد»؛ «راهنمای بحث»؛ «مصاحبه با الن فورنی»؛

راوی داستان، نوجوان سرخپوستی است، که در قرارگاه «شما البته که بخوانید زندان» زندگی را می‌گذراند؛ به کاریکاتور علاقه دارد؛ و از دید خود، بچه ای دست و پا چلفتی است؛ جونیور، البته این دست و پا چلفتی بودن خود را، با زبان طنز و شاعرانه بیان می‌کند، تا خوانشگر حس کند ایشان دارند بدبختی خود را اغراق‌ آمیز توصیف می‌کنند: (...؛ اوضاع کلاً شلم شوربا و خنده‌ دار شده بود؛ مغزم شده بود عینهو یک ظرف سیب‌ زمینی سرخ کرده ی غول پیکر؛ حالا اگر جدی‌تر و شاعرانه‌ تر و دقیقترش را بخواهید: به دنیا که آمدم روی مغزم آب بود)؛

نقل از متن: (امروز من و مادر و پدرم، به گورستان رفتیم، و قبرهای عزیزانمان را گردگیری کردیم؛ به مادربزرگ، و «یوجین» و«مری» سر زدیم؛ مامان، غذای پیک‌نیکی آورده بود، و بابا ساکسیفونش را؛ بنابراین روز را خوب و خوش گذراندیم؛ ما سرخ‌پوست‌ها، خوب بلدیم چطور یاد مرده‌هامان را زنده نگاه‌ داریم؛ من حالم خوب بود؛ پدر و مادرم، دست هم را گرفتند، و همدیگر را بوسیدند؛ گفتم:‌ «قبرستون که جای عشق‌ بازی نیس.»؛ پدرم گفت: «عشق و مرگ؛ هر چی هست عشق و مرگه!»؛ گفتم: «تو دیوونه‌ ای.»؛ گفت: «دیوونه‌ ی تو.»؛ و بغلم کرد؛ مادرم را هم بغل کرد؛ اشک توی چشم‌های مادرم، حلقه‌ زده بود؛ صورتم را گرفت توی دست‌هایش؛ گفت: «جونیور، من به تو افتخار می‌کنم.»؛ بهترین چیزی بود، که می‌توانست بگوید؛ وسط یک زندگی دیوانه، و مست، آدم باید لحظه‌ های خوب، و هوشیار را، غنیمت بداند؛ خوشحال بودم؛ اما ��ای خواهرم خالی بود، و هیچ اندازه عشق و اعتمادی، جای خالی‌ اش را پر نمی‌کرد؛ دوستش دارم، و دوستش خواهم داشت، برای همیشه؛ می‌خواهم بگویم معرکه بود؛ چقدر شجاعت به خرج داد، که آن زیرزمین را ول کرد، و رفت «مونتانا»، پی آرزوهایش رفت، به آرزوهایش نرسید، اما به‌ قدر خودش تلاش کرد؛ من هم به‌ قدر خودم تلاش کردم، و ممکن بود در راه آن تلاش کشته شوم، اما می‌دانستم ماندن در قرارگاه هم، مرا می‌کشد؛ این‌ها هم باعث شد، برای خواهرم گریه کنم؛ برای خودم گریه کنم؛ اما برای قبیله‌ ام هم بود، که گریه می‌کردم؛ گریه می‌کردم، چون می‌دانستم باز، سالانه پنج، یا ده، یا پانزده اسپوکن دیگر، خواهند مرد، و بیش‌تر این مرگ‌ها هم، به خاطر عرقخوری خواهد بود)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 04/10/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 30/08/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Jodie.
10 reviews8 followers
January 16, 2009
This book has sort of been on my radar, and yesterday I saw it on one of my student's desk. I excitedly asked him what he thought of it, and his face lit up. He told me he had just finished it and repeated, "It was a really good book" about three times, with the most genuine smile I've seen from this kid all year. When I told him it was on my list of books I wanted to read, he handed it to me and said, "take it." Huh? Then he showed me the sticker on the front cover that said, "FREE BOOK! Read and Release." He shrugged his shoulders and said, "I'm supposed to pass it on." As it turns out, there is a "Whatcom Reads" program, and this title is circulating throughout the county. The whole idea is that you read it and pass it, and I had the good fortune of being handed this beautiful book. (The fact that one of my students "passed" it makes it that much cooler.) I sat down on my couch tonight and laughed and cried and wished there was someone here (besides the cats) to share it with. I thought it was amazing.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,946 reviews292k followers
May 9, 2018
Sooo... what do I know about Indians (aka Native Americans)? Well, apparently the average white American knows very little about them and, whether that's true or not, I can confirm that the average Brit knows NOTHING about them. That would include me. Or it would have included me before I read this book.

This book was one of the biggest eye-openers ever. A very funny, kinda sad, eye-opening experience. You see, Arnold Spirit was born on an Indian reservation and raised amongst Indians and educated in Indian schools... and his life really just sucks. Big time. If the author didn't carry this story off with such witty humour, it would simply be a FML rant about poverty, death, alcoholism, abusive parents and just the sense that Hope is not even living in the same dimension as Native Americans.

The fact that all the book covers for this are incredibly childish is very misleading. It becomes apparent when you're reading it that the cover is a picture of Arnold's doodles that he does to entertain himself and to avoid going completely insane... but this is not a kid's book. In fact, I think it will be much more appreciated by the older end of the young adult audience and, of course, adults themselves. It's an education as well as an entertaining story.

I suppose that ultimately this book is about overcoming obstacles and finding hope in the darkest places (I obviously should write cheesy taglines for a living), or even just a bit of humour.
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 284 books96.9k followers
January 15, 2020
I listened to this as an audio book. The version I had was from my library, and is, I believe the tenth anniversary edition.
It was read by the author.

I started out listening to this on my own. I like having a story running in the background while I'm doing routine tasks. But very soon I saw that my husband Fred was also closely tuned into the story. So I timed my listening times so that we could enjoy it together. And enjoy it we did.

I loved Alexie's voice and inflection for this telling. I loved that he sometimes chokes up as he's reading his own words. Writers do that, even years later. There are parts of our own books that we can't get through without a tear or two.

There were moments that made both Fred and I laugh out loud, and times when we completely stopped whatever hand project we were doing to listen intently. Exhilarating triumphs and heartbreaking moments, all told in a simple style.

My grand daughter (16) came in while we were listening. "Oh, I know this one. We read it in school. I loved it." (How often do you hear that about a required reading book?)

I am years late coming to this work, obviously. I'm sure you've heard that it's the first person tale of a young man growing up on an Indian reservation in Washington state. It's so much more than that.

I recommend this, especially in the audio book format with Sherman Alexie reading his own work. I recommend that you listen to the extra bit at the end of it, too. I think it would make a great story for a family to share at home in the evening or on a long car ride.

Excellent, excellent book.
Profile Image for peachygirl.
267 reviews633 followers
October 25, 2020
Funny, poignant and heartbreaking, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian is a must read for everyone.

Dealing with hydrocephalus, poverty, constant bullying and frequent deaths in a family of drunks, Arnold aka Junior goes through an undeniably hard life growing up in the Spokane Indian Reservation. The journey of this 14 year old trying to manifest his dreams into reality by shifting to an all white school *after alienating his bestfriend and the entire community* and gearing up to face a judgemental racist society is nothing short of inspiring. After a considerable period of struggle, fistfights and basketball games, he carves a place for himself in the school earning the respect of his peers, albeit grudgingly. And gets his bestfriend back. Fin.

I enjoyed the laconic writing and the comic sketches were endearingly witty.
Enmeshing adult themes in an adolescent background, this book is a real page-turner. 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,530 reviews790 followers
October 15, 2022
On the bare face of it, this the story of a brain damaged at birth, Native American boy escaping 'the Reservation' by attending an all-white school in a town 22 miles away. Told in shot episodic chapters in the first person, this diary-like story takes a frank and comical look at life in the Reservation communities and contrasting it with life in a neighbouring well-off White community. And this is most certainly a sometimes wonderful, and sometimes heartbreaking coming of age tale of boy having to move away from the safety and insularity of the world he knows, to try and build his own future.

The image above is a still from Ryan Hopkinson's (see You Tube) movie trailer school project on this very book!
As a European reading this book it very much comes across as a damning account of how America has been treating its native peoples for more than a century and half, and what that treatment has done to pretty much obliterate generations of Native Americans. Like someone in the book says they were originally put in the Reservations to die out, but there still there! An utterly superb book, utterly superb. 8.5 out of 12. One of the saddest thing about this book was the lack of tradition on the Reservation, especially when I realised that that is indicative of reality for the Native American peoples, because of decades in Reservations :(

2022 read
Profile Image for TK421.
554 reviews257 followers
January 24, 2013
Confession time: I’ve been a bit of a snob when it comes to YA literature. The idea that this type of writing was beneath me, not able to give me what I wanted from a story were my main excuses. I’m not going to say that YA fiction is ever going to replace “literary” adult fiction, but I will say that it has opened my eyes. THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN is a magnificent read. The story centers around Junior, a Spokane Indian, and his family who live on a reservation. To be honest, I was leery coming into this book. I had read FLIGHT and RESERVATION BLUES and INDIAN KILLER and THE LONE RANGER AND TONTO FISTFIGHT IN HEAVEN, and I was expecting little from this book. Mainly I read it because it won the National Book Award. But Sherman Alexie makes a very straightforward narrative electrifying. Being a South Dakotan, I understand the tenuous relationship between Whites and Native Americans, and to think that I would be moved by a Spokane Indian was never really plausible in my mind. Alexie moved me. His words and ideas and descriptions gave me an insight that I previously lacked. Reading Junior’s story gave me the chance to see what it is like to know as a young person what your future will hold if raised on a reservation. The word bleak does not adequately describe these people’s futures; it is much darker than that. But Alexie doesn’t just paint a grim picture of reservation life; he also illuminates the aspects of life that should be cherished within all colors: family and hope. Junior doesn’t have a lot of hope, at first. But as the story progresses, his family provides him with the needed hope to see that the borders of the reservation are meant to be broken, that it is okay to explore life without knowing what the outcome is going to be. At times hilarious, heart-wrenching, and provocative, this quick read is anything but simple. Well, done, Mr. Alexie, well done. (Plus, who doesn’t like reading about basketball every once in awhile in a novel?)

Profile Image for Julie G .
870 reviews2,683 followers
November 13, 2020
Reading Road Trip 2020

Current location: Washington

After I finished Crazy Brave for my “Oklahoma” pick this year, I had the revelation that a woman who reads as much as I do should have far more books by Native writers under her belt. (Don't call me “woke,” or I'll throw a water balloon at you).

Sure, I've read John Ehle's Trail of Tears and Scott O'Dell's middle grades fiction that often features a Native protagonist. I also included John Neihardt's Black Elk Speaks for my “South Dakota” pick this year. But, all of these books were written by adventurous white men, not Native writers.

In my twenties, I discovered Leslie Marmon Silko, and in my thirties, Louise Erdrich, but I can't claim much more than that.

So, I've been delighted to find two new-to-me Native writers from the West coast of the U.S., Alaskan Inupiaq poet, Joan Naviuyuk Kane (I was not lost without you, only torn from myself) and Sherman Alexie, an American humor writer from the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington state.

Sherman Alexie is an interesting combination; he's a man who's comfortable expressing both reverence and humor with his confusing status of being, among other things, a “part-time Indian.”

He can also write some potty humor, as he proves, frequently, in this YA bromance of his:

"I love that tree,” I said.
“That's because you're a tree fag,” Rowdy said.
“I'm not a tree fag,” I said.
“Then how come you like to stick your dick inside knotholes?”
“I stick my dick in the girl trees,” I said.
Rowdy laughed his ha-ha, hee-hee avalanche laugh.

My 12-year-old's current middle school has their 8th graders read this as part of their language arts curriculum and I want to say: too young, too early. I can't imagine handing this to my middle child next year. The protagonist himself is in the middle of his freshman year of high school in the story and he's not the least bit bashful about whacking it, and whacking it good. If he were in training for the masturbating Olympics, lets just say he'd be whacking for gold, and he'd probably win it.

As a mom and former language arts teacher, I'm scrunching up my face at anyone but the 14+ crowd reading this, but I think that, given the right audience, this is a fun, and surprisingly, informative read.

It's a novel, not a memoir, but based on what I read of Sherman Alexie's background, it's largely autobiographical. I appreciate Mr. Alexie's struggle to find success in combining his Native background with what he calls his “immigrant status.” Is that mind-blowing, or what, to think of Native Americans in the United States thinking of themselves as “immigrants?”

Mr. Alexie's protagonist, Arnold Spirit, tells us, “Reservations were meant to be prisons, you know? Indians were supposed to move onto reservations and die. We were supposed to disappear.”

How depressing to me, to think that we once relegated our Native brothers and sisters to the equivalent of prisons (and alcohol and suicide, too). So much of the Native spirit has been killed, and yet. . . that spirit is here, combined with something new. Sherman Alexie's a funny writer who's a hybrid version of what was, and what might be.

This book makes me feel excited by the prospect of new, Native fiction (masturbating protagonists optional).
Profile Image for Betsy.
Author 8 books2,711 followers
January 10, 2008
You can credit Junior with this much; he's not a complainer. Not really. I mean, sure he was born with an enormous head, gigantic feet, crazy eyes, ten more teeth than normal, a stutter, and a lisp . . . . but hey, have you ever seen the guy's cartoons? They're great! Junior isn't the most popular kid on his reservation but he does all right. That is, until the day he snaps after finding his mother's maiden name in an old junky geometry book. Oddly, the teacher he lobs the book in the face of isn't angry. He just tells Junior in no uncertain terms that it would be in his own best interest to leave the reservation. Some way, somehow, he has to get off and make something of himself. Junior's no fool. He's perfectly aware that leaving the rez will be seen as some kind of a betrayal to his friends and neighbors, but the next thing you know he's applied to Reardan. Reardan is a rich, white school where the only Indian is the school mascot. Joining Reardan means that Junior has figure out what he wants from the world, what he needs from his family, and what he should do with his life.

As for the writing, it's top notch. This kind of subject matter requires a seemingly effortless mixture of laughter and tears. Sherman Alexie manages to deliver this, so that a funeral for Junior's grandmother is just as full of outright guffaws as it is pain and distress. Alexie also knows how to wield a delightful one-liner. "PCs are like French people living during the bubonic plague." Or about a bulimic girl who tries to cover it up the odor with gum, "She just smells like somebody vomited on a big old cinnamon tree." Finally, when Junior talks about cartooning as an art, he isn't dinking around. I enjoyed the section where he explained that "If you speak and write in English, or Spanish, or Chinese, or any other language, then only a certain percentage of human beings will get your meaning. But when you draw a picture, everybody can understand it."

Since Part-Time Indian received the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, it has gotten its own fair share of attention. This is great since I felt that cartoonist Ellen Forney clearly needs as much of it as she can get. Forney has created the cartoons that appear throughout Part-Time Indian, charged with the task of making them seem as though they are from the pen of Junior himself. Alexie reportedly requested Ms. Forney specifically for this book. She's not the first cartoonist to come to mind when you picture adolescent teen boy suffering, but credit Alexie for his insight. Somehow her unabashed sexuality and love of the funny works when you tone it down just right. She's definitely reigned in her wilder tendencies (a quick glance at her book I Love Led Zeppelin will confirm this) but she's managed to do it without stifling herself or her natural talent. Who knew she could even draw happy pegasuses and smiley clouds? Not me. I also appreciated the subtlety in some of her cartoons. At one point we look at an image of Junior's best friend Rowdy as he's reading his comic books. In the picture Junior has drawn a big angry face yelling, "What're you drawing??" with the explanation, "Rowdy . . . He hates it when I draw him! Never lets me finish." If you look at the picture carefully, though, you can see the outlines of Rowdy's real features hidden beneath the cartoony angry face.

I may as well just start lobbing this book at the heads of the teens I see entering my library. Anything to get them awake and noticing its existence. My objections are few and my praise strong and clear. A great title and well worth the hype it has been receiving. Go forth, my children, and read it all up. You'll feel better after you do.

Profile Image for Justin.
273 reviews2,248 followers
September 21, 2015
In the same way that John Green and Jesse Andrews use humor to deal with heavy issues like cancer, Sherman Alexie uses a similar device to tackle a variety of difficult subjects. He hits racism, bullying, addiction, death, poverty, and other topics all through his narrator's great sense of humor and his hilarious cartoons.

I don't read a ton of YA stuff (although I sure have been lately!), but I try to at least hit the highlights. I think this is the best YA book I've read since The Knife of Never Letting Go. It took me into a world with a type of racism I honestly didn't know much about. It hits hard at times with dozens of quotable one-liners, but then Junior drops in a fart joke and it softens the blow a little bit.

I thought the humor was great and consistent throughout the entire book. The cartoons really add to the story and at times made me laugh out loud. This is a book you can read in one sitting, too, because the pages turn quickly with all of the drawings and short chapters.

You will cover just about every emotion you have while reading this. In fact, I should have just made this entire review out of emojis. It hits you right in the feels, man.
Profile Image for Danielle.
792 reviews386 followers
December 25, 2021
2011 F.A.B. Bookclub pick # I.❤️. F.A.B.

There were several laugh out loud moments that caught me by surprise. There’s some very dry humor happening amongst this very serious and sometimes sad story. Ultimately, this is definitely a male adolescent type book, so keep that in mind. But the overall message was good: that you can rise above expectations and become more than expected, if you dare to be different and step outside the box.

Note: this book is listed as one of the most popular books to be banned, over the past decade, from both schools and private libraries. Support freedom of expression by reading and buying banned books! ❤️📚
Profile Image for Amora.
186 reviews137 followers
July 14, 2020
Back when I was a freshmen in high school I was given this book by my English teacher to read over the weekend for an assignment. I ended up finishing the whole novel in under a day and I loved it. I even remember giving it multiple reads after finishing it. The use of illustrations by the protagonist made this book especially funny. The reason I am an avid book reader now is thanks to this book. I know my testimony isn’t the first of it’s kind and many others were turned into avid readers as a result of being introduced to this novel.
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
858 reviews1,730 followers
September 5, 2017
Looks like I am in minority here as this is a popular book with all those 4 and 5 star ratings and all those glowing reviews.

Let me start with a confession, when I'd came across this title I added it thinking that this would be about Indians of India but I was proved wrong within few pages of starting this. This book is about native American Indians. I was a teeny tiny disappointed but I kept on reading as it has one of my favorite themes i.e. coming of age.

Story is told from PoV of Arnold and is about fitting in.

“Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community.”

So Arnold decides that he wants to read in a white school, to be friends with white kids, and somehow he feels that his community hates him for this. They saw it as he was backing out on whole Indian community and no longer a part of it. Honestly, I didn't see the "hatred" that Arnold felt except perhaps from his best friend and other guys of his age. Other than that his family was very supportive of his decision and other adults in the Reservation just accepted it as his decision.

While I get it why he is feeling like this (of course, when you are first one to do an odd things, you'd surely going to attract those stern and suspicious glares that made you feel that something is not right with you), what I don't get is "why". Reading in a white school won't make you an exceptionally bright kid or just turn you into a super intelligent kid. His teacher asked him to change school for better studies but the guy was too busy in trying to fit in, to make himself acceptable among the rich and shallow kids.

I think I am too dumb to get the meaning or the message that this book is trying to convey if there is any. No way I am recommending this to any of my friend.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
August 25, 2016
Alexie’s autobiographical YA novel features Junior, who escapes into comics (drawn in the manner of a kid, wonderfully, by Ellen Forney) from his often tragic life on the rez, particularly The Spokane Indian Reservation. It’s in a kind of diary format, and the “part-time Indian” part of the title refers to the move he makes to leave the rez school in Wellpinit to travel to an all-white school in Reardan, twenty-two miles away but it might as well be a continent away. That move, initated by a teacher who tells him to get out to save himself, separates Junior from both worlds.

Junior’s best rez friend is Rowdy, who protects him from being beaten up sometimes. In Reardan he also has makes a friend, Gordy, an also smart kid, and gets support from Roger, his basketball teammate, but he also has a (white) girlfriend named Penelope. Junior was born with Hydrocephalus, too much fluid on the brain, which has long time effects including seizures, vision problems, dental issues, and more. He gets beaten up a lot, there’s a lot of fighting on the rez, but Rowdy needs to make sure he doesn’t get hit on the head.

Along the way there are tragedies involving his best friend dog, Oscar, his sister who wants to write romance novels, his Dad’s best friend, Eugene that are somewhat balanced by Junior/Alexie’s laughter in the face of all things bad. You might laugh and cry on the very same page; sometimes it could happen in the same sentence! There’s a streak of rage in Alexie that runs deep. You find it in his novel Indian Killer, but it crops up everywhere, usually about the decimation of Indian culture and land appropriation, but he also has rage about the devastation of alcoholism, which continues to destroy lives everywhere, but disproportionately in Indian populations. The damage it does to Junior’s life is extensive, and he’s mad about it. And at the same time, Junior finds something to laugh about, sometimes hysterically, about these losses.

The epigraph for the book comes from Yeats: “There is another world, but it is in this one.” This idea works in various ways in this book. Many people don’t know the depression and poverty of Indian reservations, even today. That often sad world of the rez exists in the larger world of the U. S., largely invisible. But the world of the spirit also exists within the world of the rez, a world of hope, of escape from disabilities, brutality.

There’s a lot of laugh out loud humor in this book, often laughing at uncomfortable subjects, laughter amid tears. There’s hope in that laughter, but it’s comolicated, because you don’t want to make the mistake of thinking things are all right because of the jokes. But for Junior hope also comes packaged as books, Indian culture, basketball, friendship, family, even as he identifies the long sad history of the destruction of Indian culture in this country, and the rampant depression, the inadequate health care, the hunger, Junior’s various disabilities. There’s blame here for white America, but Alexie/Junior also blames Indians sometimes for their share of responsibility in taking itself down. Shared responsibility, collective rage.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian may not be for everyone. There may be a little too much sexual language for some readers, there’s a regular thread about masturbation in it. The language can at times be more graphic than in most YA books. The book sometimes substitutes jokes for deeper characterization, in places. He goes for the joke too much maybe, but the jokes are so good and painfully true! I loved reading this sad and funny book again with my class. It affirms the importance of self-expression through words, through comics, stories.
Profile Image for Andrei Bădică.
365 reviews153 followers
June 29, 2018
"Nu contează ce ai vrut să faci. Contează ce ai făcut cu adevărat."
"Bine, tata are o problemă cu alcoolul și mama poate să fie excentrică uneori, dar fac sacrificii pentru mine. Se gândesc la mine. Vorbesc cu mine. Și, cel mai important, mă ascultă."
Profile Image for Bill Muganda.
353 reviews225 followers
June 25, 2017
I am sitting here just staring at the ceiling, I still can’t believe that this book packed such a punch. My sister just walked into the room and asked me what’s wrong and I threw the book at her…

Image result for Read it gif

“If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing.”

I don’t know if I will manage to convince anyone to at least attempt to pick this up, but I will give it my best.

The story is told from The First person by Junior, a 14-Year-Old Spokane Indian boy born with a variety of medical problems in a poverty ridden reservation that is heavily looked down upon by the fellow white men. And all hope for him to make it out and make something of himself doesn’t seem very possible. He then decides to take his hope back and fight for his future by drawing funny illustrations of his life experiences and going in an all-white farm school that will pose a challenge and some interesting surprises while facing major condemnation from his fellow Indians for going to the white school.
“I grabbed my book and opened it up. I wanted to smell it. Heck, I wanted to kiss it. Yes, kiss it. That's right, I am a book kisser. Maybe that's kind of perverted or maybe it's just romantic and highly intelligent.”

This book opened my eyes and rid me of my ignorance in a very clever and funny way. I was so impressed by how he made me laugh at some very serious topics and I would still feel uncomfortable but in a good way ( If that makes any Goddamn sense ) he wasn't afraid to tackle some social issues head on & incorporate humour effectively . You could see some aspects of Sherman in Junior and it was delightful to see all this through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy which is usually annoying. The naivety was executed so well, unlike Extremely Loud and Incredibly close by Jonathan Safran Foer where the 9-year-old main character’s voice was unbelievable for his age, this one felt genuinely real and because it was sort of written like a memoir it felt a lot more personal. I was angry at some prejudice, I cried at some bits and I laughed out loud at the dialogue. That just proves how connected I was especially for a Young Adult book. The main character was everything, I can still hear his voice and his funny personality jumping out of the pages. The illustrations by Ellen Forney elevated the book to a whole other level. Seriously, they were funny & interesting e.g.

Image result for ellen forney illustrations

Funny Stuff xD

Image result for ellen forney illustrations

“If you're good at it, and you love it, and it helps you navigate the river of the world, then it can't be wrong.”

Themes surrounding racism, abuse, hopelessness and struggle play out & some sections will literally twist your inside making you question what it is to be human. But the simplicity and comic relief of the book soften the punch of the book . In a way, I related to the main character, some aspects of his life really struck a cord. As a kid, I fought so hard to stand for my dreams and future by telling everyone that I would get out and grab the world by the balls and run with it. I would tell everyone what future I painted but as I grew up reality struck and I sort of fell into the same lifeless routine that kind of shrunk my dreams but I still had that little spark inside -that flame of hope- that I protected from the wind of reality. Junior never gave up and when he decided to be the first Indian to go to an all-white school for a better opportunity than the one provided back to his community, it was so brave and impactful that I was happy to see it told in a YA book. Poverty, Opportunity, Racial Segregation, Hope, Acceptance, Growth and so much more this book should be on everyone’s bookshelf.

If you have any recommendations for YA books that feature any Red Indian Character or Explore the culture or just any diverse YA books feel free to tell me:0 I feel like I need quality Young Adult fiction in my life.

Thanks for Reading :)


So until next time stay Bookish ;)

Profile Image for Mohadese.
366 reviews951 followers
July 10, 2020
"آن روز از سقوط کردن ترس و واهمه ای نداشتیم.
روزهای دیگر چرا، من از پرت شدن می ترسم. هر قدری هم بزرگ بشوم، فکر می کنم همیشه از سقوط کردن بترسم."

ساختارشکنی کتاب رو دوست داشتم! برخلاف تصوری بود که ازسرخ پوست ها داشتم، در واقع همه از بیرون در مورد اونها می نویسن و این بار یک سرخ پوست از سرخ پوست ها روایت میکرد. و علاوه بر اون جونیور شخصا فرد ساختار شکنی بود که با بیماری و معلولیتش و قبیله اش مبارزه میکرد.
اون قدر که میگن کتاب خنده دار نبود و اصلا گریه دار نبود، درست ترین وصف از نظر من "لذت بخش" عه! این کتاب برای من تلنگر بود، یه جورایی بهم یادآوری کرد که من قرار بود کارهای بزرگتری کنم! خلاصه این که حس خیلی خیلی خوبی نسبت بهش دارم :دی
تضادها و بلندپروازیای جونیور رو بسی درک میکردم، شاید ب خاطر یک جونیور شاید خفته درونی :]
نثر کتاب خیلی صمیمی و روان بود و قطعا اگر امتحان نداشتم یک روزه تموم میشد (من میگم بهش کتاب سریع)
کاریکاتورهای کتاب هم بسی دوست داشتنی بود.
Profile Image for kian.
198 reviews50 followers
December 21, 2016
کتابی بود که از اول تا آخرش، میتونی همزمان هم حس گریه و هم حس خنده داشته باشی.. هر دو با هم.....

گوردی کتابی به من داد نوشته ی یک نویسنده روس به نام تولستوی. تولستوی میگوید: «همه خانواده های خوشبخت شبیه هم اند. اما هر خانواده بدبخت، بدبختی خودش را دارد.» خب من دوست ندارم با یک نابغه روس وارد جروبحث شوم. چیزی که هست تولستوی سرخپوستها را نمیشناخته.یکی هم اینکه تولستوی نمیدانست عامل بدبختی تمام خانواده های سرخپوست، دقیقا یک چیز است؛ عرق خوری لعنتی!
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews165k followers
April 8, 2016
Really enjoyed this! It was a rather interesting writing style. It had this very casual feeling to it. I will say that there are a few things here and there that irked me, but for the most part it was enjoyable. Full video review to come! :)
Profile Image for Alialiarya.
166 reviews24 followers
July 12, 2022
آره، یوجین آدم مثبت‌اندیشی بود، حالا گیریم الکلی بود و آخرش نزدیک‌ترین دوستش با گلوله زد تو صورتش و کشتش

مجبور بودم چند ساعت توی ماشین بشینم در گرما و بعدش هم رفتیم چشم پزشک و بعله طبق معمول هر بار چکاپ چشم لعنتی باز هم ضعیف‌تر شده و باید خدا تومن پول داد برای شیشه‌‌ی عینک. کتابم را خانه جا گذاشتم. داشتم بولانیو می‌خواندم‌. موسیو پین و محو جهانش بودم. توی گرما چشمم به یک کتابفروشی کودکان خورد و آن‌جا توانستم پیدایش کنم. لعنتی تمام روزم را ساخت. هم گرما را فراموش کردم هم چشمم را. یک طنز با شعور. کتابی که پشت شخصیت‌های نوجوان و جالبش به خوبی توانسته با زبانی ساده مفاهیم بزرگی را به نقد بکشد. رسیدن به کمدی و سیال ذهن برای برخورد آرام‌تر با جهان پوچ و سهمگین کتاب. هرچه کتاب جلوتر می‌رود با کمدی و بخش سیاه‌اش آشناتر می‌شویم. بعضی کتاب‌ها با روز خواندنشان در یاد می‌مانند. در یادم خواهد ماند به نشان روزی که هوا گرم بود و فهمیدم چشمانم باز ضعیف شده اما همش بخاطر جونیور داشتم می‌خندیدم. و البته ناراحت بودم

پسرک جایی در کتاب مراسم ختم مادربزرگش را این‌گونه شرح می‌دهد که می‌توان کتاب را نیز این‌گونه شرح داد: بامزه و مسخره و غم‌انگیز بود

Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,014 reviews1,051 followers
January 20, 2015
4.5 well deserved stars!

This review contains helpful spoilers. :)

This book authentically tells us about the consequences of racism, stereotyping and isolation in the eyes of a 14 year old boy, Arnold Spirit Jr., a native Indian American who ironically suffered 14 years of bullying in the hands of his fellow tribesmen in their reservation. It's funny how Arnold only started to believe in what he can do and be accepted when he transferred to a school outside their reservation where all students except for him and their mascot are white. Though at first, he suffers derision and all sorts of insulting stereotypes White Americans concoct about Indians, he slowly starts earning friends, a pretty white semi-girlfriend and even a slot in the varsity basketball team. Even when his new friends discover that Arnold's family is poor, they do not shun him. In fact, it is his fellow tribesmen who rejected him for transferring and leaving them, calling him names like apple (red in the outside but white in the inside-a part-time Indian as indicated in the title).

The most ironic thing about this book is how Arnold humorously and comically narrates his story in his diary. Because even though he's already talking about his terrible and painful experiences in life such as the death of a family member, his poverty, and the lifelessness of the people in their reservation, he relates them as indifferently and as jokingly as he can that you wouldn't know whether you'll laugh or cry. He even makes sketches and drawings that make you crack up and forget that what he's actually telling is a very sad thing.

It's also mystifying how a death of someone can unify a people, making them forget differences and ill feelings which was exactly how Arnold came to feel that he is still one with his tribe and that even if this is true, it doesn't mean that he cannot belong to other tribes anymore. In fact, he realizes that he belongs to many tribes of the world (tribe of book lovers, of basketball lovers, of travelers, of dreamers, etc.)

The manner by which the story is written to me is also very genuine as if everything is coming from an actual 14 year old American-Indian boy and I give credit to the author and the cartoonist for that.

I strongly recommend every American to read this book. In fact, I strongly recommend everyone to read this book because for some reason, I think everyone regardless of skin color at some point, has become a racist in its most general meaning. Most of us are guilty of stereotyping which is one of the main sub classes of racism and this is one great book that will remind us of our quick and easy, but often wrong judgment. ;)
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
909 reviews13.8k followers
January 12, 2018
I'm removing my rating & review for this book until I reread it because I don't think I was at an age where I could truly comprehend it, and I know the insensitive phrasing of my original review calling it unrealistic may have hurt and/or misled people who previously saw the review.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,601 reviews1,669 followers
October 14, 2016
Dammit, I knew I should have written this review when I first finished the book, but I decided to push it off because it seemed too hard to try and sum up all my feeeeelings, but joke’s on me, now it’s even harder!

Sherman Alexie has been one of my favorite writers since I was in college and one of my English comp teachers made us watch Smoke Signals, which is based off Alexie’s short story, “This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” and for which he also wrote the screenplay. I thought the film was hilarious (and sad) and so decided to look up the source material. I’m not usually one for short stories (even short story collections by my favorite authors, for instance Neil Gaiman, have a hard time holding my attention). I much prefer longer narratives (and as a young person, the longer the better) so as to really have the time and space to get invested. But for some reason, Sherman Alexie was instantly an exception. I own all his short story collections, and have re-read them several times. When I taught English comp myself, I regularly taught my favorite of his stories, “Dear John Wayne” as a way to have the kiddos engage critically on the subject of gender roles and race. In fact, until I read this book, I had ONLY read his short stories. Why did I do this? I have no idea. I love Sherman Alexie in short form, why wouldn’t I love him in long form as well, my preferred medium?

It also shouldn’t have surprised me that he’d be so good at writing for young people. He’s almost brutal about portraying the realities of the world as he sees it. Kids love that brutal honesty shit. We really shouldn’t coddle them if they’re willing to listen. They’re the ones it’s easy to change. He’s also hilariously funny, as per the usual. And what’s even better is that he’s funny in the service of his narrative, and not just to be goofy. The serious subject matter makes the jokes funnier, and the jokes make the serious subject matter hit home.

This thing seems like it popped up fully formed. (In large part, I’m sure it did, since it seems to be at least partly autobiographical.) Junior’s voice is so, so engaging and unique. The artwork is not only super entertaining (and moving), but it also seamlessly interweaves with the narrative. The book wouldn’t have been the same without it. Alexie juggles so many balls in this book. It’s a coming of age story, and a story about growing up poor. It's about systemic racism, and the social realities of living on a reservation. The pervasive pessimism, the alcoholism. And yet, it’s also optimistic, and it does this without being cloying or naïve. Junior gets out and will ostensibly make something of himself, but not without a cost.

So yeah, I loved this book. Read it in one sitting. I need to own my own copy immediately. I also need to finally get on reading his other novels (Flight, Indian Killer, Reservation Blues). If they’re half as good as this book, I will enjoy myself immensely.

Profile Image for Brittany McCann.
1,562 reviews395 followers
December 30, 2022
This was interesting, told in a fictional biographic style of a Native American reservation teen who is intelligent and gets the opportunity to go to school off the res with the white kids.

I grew up in Montana and around reservations, so the Montana comments had me laughing a lot. I don't think that other people can imagine (even myself, having grown up near and going onto reservations at times) what reservation life is like. One thing is for sure; alcoholism is a REAL thing that still affects many reservation families.

Being told through the "eyes" of a teenage boy with raging hormones, I would say that Alexie did a superb job of staying true to the realism of people's thoughts but maybe don't say aloud. There is crude humor and some disturbing scenarios that are talked about as normalcies, but this helps stay true to the realism of someone in that situation. It was both heartbreaking and hopeful for others to be able to shine in the world and find their light.

Favorite quotes:
"If every moment of a book should be taken seriously, then every moment of a life should be taken seriously as well."

"Can you imagine a place where white people were scared of Indians and not the other way around? That's Montana"

I would recommend it for a humorous teenage boy mind read for sure. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.
Profile Image for Parastoo.
155 reviews329 followers
April 14, 2020
باید بگم که مغزم منفجر شده
من هیچ نظر شخصی ای درباره ی این کتاب نمیدم، باید اینجوری بگم که، به خودم اجازه ی نظر دادن درباره ی این کتاب رو نمیدم.
تنها چیزی که میگم اینکه این کتاب رو همه باید بخونند، همه!
این کتاب بیش از حد واقعی بود، پر از احساسات، پراز حرفهای قشنگ، پر از درد، پر از واقعیت ها، پر از تردید و تحقیر ها!

این کتاب درباره ی جامعه ی سرخپوستی ساکن آمریکاست، سرخپوست هایی که کشورشون ازشون گرفته شد و دیگه آدم حساب نشدند.
یه جمله ای توی کتاب ذهنم رو درگیر کرد:
خونه به دوش به آدم هایی میگن که دائم توی حرکت هستند، اینورواونر دنبال آب و غذاوچراگاه می‌گردن.سرخپوست های الان دیگه خونه به دوش نیستند ولی تو خونه به دوش هستی. همیشه می‌دونستم تو می‌خوای از اینجا بری، می‌خوای مارو بذاری و بری دنیا رو بگردی. تو یکی از اون خونه به دوش های قدیمی سرخپوست هستی. تو می‌خوای دنبال غذا و چراگاه دنیارو زیرپا بذاریو این محشره.
اینجا بود که حس کردم ما ایرانی ها و سرخ‌پوست ها شباهت های زیادی داریم :)

دیگ پرحرفی نمی‌کنم چون این کتاب باید خونده ببشه، پس بخونید و لذت ببرید :) ❤
Displaying 1 - 30 of 26,462 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.