Michael'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
May 02, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, read-in-2011

If you want to make an audience curious about a book, just put it on the "banned" list.

When I saw that this was one of the most objected to books on the list, I had to admit I was curious. I picked it up to see why it was banned and stayed for the fascinating characters and the moving story.

Arnold ‘Junior’ Spirit is a teenage native American living on a reservation. He attends the local reservation school until he's challenged by a teacher to go to a more academically oriented school that may give him a chance to be something more. Arnold decides to follow that dream and ends up alienating his only friend on the reservation and becoming an object of scorn as well. He also struggles as he tries to find his place in his new school.

Moving, real and authentic, Arnold's journey through the school year is compelling and frank. Told from the first-person perspective of a teenage boy, the story contains references to everything a teenage boy thinks about on a daily basis. Punches aren't pulled and things aren't sugar coated and the book is stronger for that.

"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" is a coming of age story that will surprise you. There were moments in this book I laughed out loud and others where I had a lump in my throat. Often these two are within just a few pages of each other.

Experiencing the story, I realize that while Arnold swears and discusses coarse subjects, it's all done because he's being real with himself and the readers. That drew me in and kept me interested. And in one of the highest compliments you can pay to a book, I reached the final page and wasn't ready for it to end. I'm not sure a sequel is necessary or demanded, but this is one reader who'd welcome another chance to spend some time with Arnold.

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Reading Progress

May 2, 2011 – Started Reading
May 2, 2011 – Shelved
May 2, 2011 –
page 44
19.13%
May 4, 2011 –
page 230
100.0%
May 4, 2011 – Shelved as: young-adult
May 4, 2011 – Shelved as: read-in-2011
May 4, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Cassy (new)

Cassy Were you able to discern why it was banned?


Michael Language and frank discussion of masterbation


message 3: by Cassy (new)

Cassy That'll do it, I suppose. Imagine the outrage among school principals!


Michael I'm not sure it's the high school principals so much as some parents who can't believe that teenage boys talk like, well, teenage boys.


message 5: by Cassy (new)

Cassy I sometimes forget how laissez-faire my parents were. I was allowed to read, watch, and listen to pretty much anything I wanted. Though I can't say I was reading books like this one!


Michael I recall the first time I picked up a Stephen King novel (at the age of 12 or 13) and my mom saying it was fine for me to read it, but also making sure that I knew I could come talk to her about it if I ran across things I didn't understand or thought I should talk to her about.

I think one of the big problems these days is that too many parents want to helicopter parent. They want to have someone else tell them what to think of a book or movie or whatever endeavor it is rather than finding out about it for themselves and actually parenting the children. In a lot of ways, this only makes it more intriguing to the kids and they'll work harder to experience it.

As I've babbled on elsewhere, there such a thing as age appropriate. I wouldn't give a third grader "Catcher in the Rye" even if he or she were at the level of reading proficiency. But there is a point when it's appropriate for it to be read...and discussed and considered.


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