RAM Readers Spring 2020 discussion

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
This is a controversial book and has been banned in many places. I look forward to reading your thoughts.


message 2: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments • This book tells a story of a Native American teen Arnold Spirit (Junior) who lives on Spokane Indian Reservation and goes to Reardan high school (“a white school”). It covers a lot of sensitive issues like social relationships, identity crisis, racsim, self-awareness, dreams deferred, stereotypes, segregation, isolation and so forth. Probably that is the reason why this book is banned in some places. It is also really funny because I did not laugh from the beginning to the end. I read some book reviews and they all commented it was very hilarious. I do get the sense of humor from the author, but I do not feel like laughing. However, it makes me feel upset. Junior has all sorts of physical problems that are directly the result of his brain damage. He had been bullied because of so many reasons. And the whole society is somehow wrong.

• Being a kid with stutter and a lisp is not easy. I happened to be a stammer when I was really young. I totally understand how it feels when people call your names and laugh at you, which is miserable. Luckily, Junior has a best friend Rowdy who is the toughest kid on the rez. I think the reason has to be traced back to his family. Rowdy’s father is drinking hard and throwing hard punches to him and his mother. Family environment plays an important role in teenagers’ lives. Thus, Rowdy becomes tough and is full of violent behaviors. He does punch, kick and spit to others as well. However, when Junior decided to go to the other white school, he lost his best friend Rowdy. And later on, he lost his grandmother, sister and others.

• I do not quite understand some expressions. I know what the author wants to say, but not exactly like King Kong battling Godzilla, Squaw Boy, Wuss and so on. In this book, it mentions many times about dreams. Someone is not supposed to dream like that. Or if people pay more attention to their dreams, things will be different! Junior, his parents, Rowdy and Penelope, they all have dreams. I mean everyone deserves to have dreams no matter who they are and where they are from. Teenagers are sharing something in common from different races. They want to belong to somewhere even though they seem like wired sometimes (like Junior and Gordy). It is very interesting that one of Junior’s favorite books is The Grapes of Wrath that is the book we just read. I find especially poignant when I finish reading this book. I do not know what I can do to make this world becoming a better place.


message 3: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments What an amazing book! The main character Arnold Spirit, (called Junior by his parents and friends), made me laugh and cry many times. I believe that one of the reasons that this book has been banned in many places is because the censorship; the author mentions some issues related to sex. From my perspective, the message brought by this book about hope and perseverance is beyond expressions and vocabulary used. People can get inspired by the main character´s determination and find connections between their struggles with Junior´s struggles.
Arnold was born with cerebral spinal fluid (water on the brain), and it causes him several physical problems, seizures, stutter, and lisp. This boy had to fight for life since he was young, but he did not give up facing bad living conditions. Living in poverty with his family on the Spokane Indian Reservation, he found a way to make sense of his world, drawing cartoons to represent his life and difficulties.
I not only connect Arnold´s experiences to many adolescents that I have seen but also to someone who does not want to have an unproductive life and decide to look for a better opportunity in a different world. Arnold refuses to stay in his comfort zone: He got shocked when his teacher tried to teach him using the same book used by his mother and decided to leave the reservation to seek for better future. He had a brave attitude, and even facing too many challenges, he went to study at Reardan High School in a wealthy white neighborhood.
Arnold felt by himself at the new school. He realized that he did not belong to his Indian community anymore, but he did not belong to the White Class. At first, his new classmates ignored and mocked him. He used to settle conflicts with violence, but he learns this method does not work in his new environment. So, he was conducted to build new relationships and find different ways to face life.
During Arnold´s journey in Reardan, many sad events happened to his life. As soon as he left the Rez, his best friend Rowdy got mad with him and broke the friendship. Eventually, he lost three people that he loved; his grandmother, his father´s best friend Eugene, and his sister. Fortunately, those unhappy episodes did not stop him from achieving his goals, and also he could go along well with Rowdy at the end of the story.


message 4: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Lourdes wrote: "What an amazing book! The main character Arnold Spirit, (called Junior by his parents and friends), made me laugh and cry many times. I believe that one of the reasons that this book has been banne..."

Hey Lou,

You commented that the author mentions some issues related to sex, so it leads to the banish of this book. How interesting, I haven't thought about that. I assumed it was banned because of some sensitive issues as I posted. That is why we need to work with others because people can see different perspectives. Well down!

Yao Chen


message 5: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Yao wrote: "Lourdes wrote: "What an amazing book! The main character Arnold Spirit, (called Junior by his parents and friends), made me laugh and cry many times. I believe that one of the reasons that this boo..."

Hi yao,
Your thoughts make sense too. This book may be banished for both reasons!
By the way, I agree with you that parents´ examples play a large role in their children´s life. It so sad Rowdy´s father and his problem with alcoholism. It refects in Rowdy´s behavior. He used to hit people because he saw his dad doing that at home.


message 6: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
Lourdes and Yao, I enjoyed reading your posts. You are both doing so well with all of your readings. I know that due to language differences this is a challenge for you. Keep up the good work!!


message 7: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
Lourdes and Yao, I enjoyed reading your posts. You are both doing so well with all of your readings. I know that due to language differences this is a challenge for you. Keep up the good work!!


message 8: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
Lourdes and Yao, I enjoyed reading your posts. You are both doing so well with all of your readings. I know that due to language differences this is a challenge for you. Keep up the good work!!


message 9: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
Lourdes and Yao, I enjoyed reading your posts. You are both doing so well with all of your readings. I know that due to language differences this is a challenge for you. Keep up the good work!!


message 10: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments I LOVE a good banned book! Sometimes, it takes a banned book to give students (especially teens) the incentive to read. My first year of teaching, I was given a class that no other teachers wanted (the fate of many first-year teachers). This particular class was labeled "the Repeaters" and was comprised of 9th graders who had failed for the year, and didn't receive the English credit. Many of these students were chronically absent, constantly suspended, always in trouble, etc. I was given absolutely NO CURRICULUM! I was told that my only goal was to get these students to come to class on a regular basis, for attendance purposes. My English department head gave me permission to do whatever I wanted in the class, so I did. After a disastrous first six-weeks, I decided to challenge them. I researched, and found a great banned book to teach them: The Chocolate War. I ordered the books, and created an entire unit. I was so nervous because The Chocolate War deals with a lot of the same uncomfortable themes as Part-Time Indian. I had to mentally prepare myself to address these issues. It worked! My students devoured the novel! Yes, it was REALLY uncomfortable to discuss the themes, at times; but, ultimately, it was worth it.
That's the way I viewed Part-Time Indian; I cringed at some of the controversial topics, but I know that students can relate. I also appreciate that this is a novel about Native Americans, who are a people RARELY featured in young adult novels. It was refreshing, and the average teenager probably has no idea what life is like on a modern-day reservation.
I am all for a novel that can get our students reading; there will always be someone who has a problem with every novel. When I taught the banned book, I simply sent home a note explaining that we were going to read a banned book. The parents had to sign giving permission to read--although I know that most of the kids forged the signature. In any case, my students (whom the school had given up on) actually read a novel, which is a win in my book.


message 11: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Natalie wrote: "I LOVE a good banned book! Sometimes, it takes a banned book to give students (especially teens) the incentive to read. My first year of teaching, I was given a class that no other teachers wanted ..."

Hi Natalie,

I just felt so touched based on the personal story you have shared along with the book report. You are such a wonderful teacher and please receive my round of applause for you. It seems like that this is the first book I read featured in Native Americans. Thank you for the good point of view you brought up! Well done!

Yao Chen


message 12: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Lisa wrote: "Lourdes and Yao, I enjoyed reading your posts. You are both doing so well with all of your readings. I know that due to language differences this is a challenge for you. Keep up the good work!!"

Many thanks Dr. Dryden! Your comment motivates and encourages us to keep going!
Love it!


message 13: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments This book speaks the truth of Junior's life. Throughout the book, he explains the stereotypes that Native Americans dealt with and how they are treated (ex: Indians feel half the pain than white people, Indians receive money from the casinos).
Reading this book was painful but hilarious at the same time. Junior goes through a lot in one school year but he still manage to keep laughing. I liked how the illustration really connected to the description. S.Alexie did not hold back when came to his comments about drinking, sex jokes, and racism. This is a great easy read however I believe this book does demand a great deal of maturity level from the reader.


message 14: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is about a young boy named Arnold Spirit that goes by Junior. The story is simply all about Junior's life and his experience as a Native American teen who moved from a school on the reservation to Reardan, a school off the reservation. Junior faces several hardships as we realized that life isn't necessarily easy on the other side but understands that he decided to better himself.

I enjoyed this novel. Junior's stories were always so beautiful. There were plenty of funny ones, and some that were very emotional. I was very moved by Junior's attempt to reconcile with Rowdy. I was able to relate to Junior when he tries to make up with Rowdy and goes to his house, but Rowdy doesn't talk to him. I went through something similar when I was younger, and it was I knew how Junior was feeling.

I was unaware that this was a banned book, but after reading, I could see why it was added to this list of banned books. Although I could see how some of the topics in the novel would make some people uncomfortable. I think that most banned books are great books, but with students, you have to be sure that they are mature enough to handle the topics and have parent permission.


message 15: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Natalie wrote: "I LOVE a good banned book! Sometimes, it takes a banned book to give students (especially teens) the incentive to read. My first year of teaching, I was given a class that no other teachers wanted ..."


Hey Natalie,

I think that you did an excellent job, especially considering the circumstances with your class. I believe that it can be challenging to find a novel that your students are interested in reading and will enjoy, so kudos for being able to do that. I also agree that it was refreshing to see a Native American teen be the center of this novel. There should be more books with diverse characters.


message 16: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Yao wrote: "• This book tells a story of a Native American teen Arnold Spirit (Junior) who lives on Spokane Indian Reservation and goes to Reardan high school (“a white school”). It covers a lot of sensitive i..."

Yao: I'm glad you mentioned the stuttering, and how it directly affected Junior's life. Thank you for sharing that you used to stammer, and know what it feels like to be targeted for it. My daughter mildly stutters, and, as I was reading, I wondered if she would take comfort in seeing a main character who was going through the same thing. I feel like people who stutter or stammer think they are alone, so to see a funny, witty main character navigate the world of bullies might help some teenagers who are in the same boat.


message 17: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Yao wrote: "Natalie wrote: "I LOVE a good banned book! Sometimes, it takes a banned book to give students (especially teens) the incentive to read. My first year of teaching, I was given a class that no other ..."

Thank you, Yao! Those are very kind words. One of the great things about this class is that we, the students, are exposed to some great, modern YA novels. I wish some of these books were around when I was first teaching. The options now are mind-blowing!


message 18: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Lourdes wrote: "What an amazing book! The main character Arnold Spirit, (called Junior by his parents and friends), made me laugh and cry many times. I believe that one of the reasons that this book has been banne..."

Lourdes: Like you, I love that the author created a teenage protagonist who chose to live outside of his comfort zone. As we all know, teenagers desire to 'fit in' and just blend in to society. Not Arnold. He risked so much and, hopefully, anyone reading this novel will gain inspiration to do the same.
You also bring up a good point that Arnold is straddling two worlds: the 'white' world and his Native American world. He feels like he is caught; both worlds don't seem to fully accept him. What a tough position to be in, especially for a teenager. I would love to see where Arnold goes from here; what world will he succeed in?


message 19: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Jackie wrote: "Natalie wrote: "I LOVE a good banned book! Sometimes, it takes a banned book to give students (especially teens) the incentive to read. My first year of teaching, I was given a class that no other ..."

Jackie: Thanks for the kind words! After that first year of teaching, I felt like I could take on any class lol!
I read a disturbing statistic about diversity in children's books. As of the year 2018, only 1% (23 books total) of children's books had a Native American protagonist! What a shame! I truly hope this changes, because children (and teens) need to see themselves represented in literature.


message 20: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Natalie wrote: "Lourdes wrote: "What an amazing book! The main character Arnold Spirit, (called Junior by his parents and friends), made me laugh and cry many times. I believe that one of the reasons that this boo..."

Hey Natalie,

Do you know the funny thing? I have something in common with Junior! We both did not give up facing struggles.
After lost a great job in Brazil some years ago, I got depressed and could stop my carrier, but I realized if I did that, I would kill my dreams. So I decided to go ahead and build my second carrier in Education. It was the best decision I have made in my life: Here I am!


message 21: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments Before talking about the book, I would like to talk about the author Alexie. Sherman Alexie informs that 78% of the book is an autobiography. He was born with hydrocephalus and suffered bullying a lot during his school age. The only moment that is not true in the book is the anger and aggressive moments that he experienced in real life. I decided to learn about the author to understand some situations in the book, and I really could feel his pain when someone tries to hurt him or something sad happens with his family. Alexie can express himself clearly. The most important theme of this book is resiliency, discrimination, the power of education, and the power of community.
Some criticals mentions that the book is inappropriate to students because of the violence, language, and sexual content. The book was banned in some schools and libraries. I don't agree because what is written in the book really happens in real life. Sometimes students need a chock of reality.

The protagonist is a 14 years old boy called Junior who loves to draw. He used to live in Spokane Indian reservation with his family. He was bullied a lot because of his physical problems, but he is a wise guy who was engaged by a teacher to move to a different school that he could exceed his limits and fly in life. He is an artist and tries to express himself in a different way than words; he reveals himself drawing.

"I draw because words are too unpredictable./I draw because words are too limited".
He is an extraordinary guy because of keeping hope in many sad moments of his life. These events test Junior's sense of hope for a better future and make him wonder about the darker aspects of reservation culture. He never gave up.
I couldn't understand some jokes and laugh during the discussion, but I liked the language and how the author expresses his feelings.
This book was written in 2007, and we can see the same actual problems as all books that we read: drugs, family issues, adolescent behaviors, aggressivity, racism...

My best lesson in this book was Junior sentence:
Every moment of life should be taken seriously.
One day at home, one call, one friend visit, one huge, each moment in our life is valuable.


message 22: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments Jackie wrote: "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is about a young boy named Arnold Spirit that goes by Junior. The story is simply all about Junior's..."


Hi Jackie, I liked it when you wrote that you went through something similar when you were younger, and it was I knew how Junior was feeling. The pleasure of reading is when we can recognize us inside the story and we can remember our feelings. That motivates us to keep reading. I like the idea of having parents' permission, it is really good when the parents actively participate in decisions important like this.


message 23: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments Natalie wrote: "I LOVE a good banned book! Sometimes, it takes a banned book to give students (especially teens) the incentive to read. My first year of teaching, I was given a class that no other teachers wanted ..."

Hi Natalie for sure, when we finish Dr. Dryden classes, I will read this book The chocolate war. I believe you were challenged and exceeded expectations... Congratulations.


message 24: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments Yao wrote: "• This book tells a story of a Native American teen Arnold Spirit (Junior) who lives on Spokane Indian Reservation and goes to Reardan high school (“a white school”). It covers a lot of sensitive i..."

Hi Yao ..
I love how organized with your ideas you are!
also, I didn't understand some expressions in the book. I liked the way you brought about dreams, it is something that happens to us and we just forgot about this. Sometimes dreams are messages that cant read ...


message 25: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Because of the corona virus, I listened to audio version for this novel. At first, the name of the story make me confuse and I can find my answer in the middle of the story. Junior is the main character in the novel, he come from American Indian reservation- a special place for Native Americans. This place has bad condition and the people here live for long time and they can’t not improve the life. Junior see the situation and he want move out this reservation to study in another school sothat he can learn new things, but he is very different in this school because of his skin color. The novel tell us what happened about Junior about his school and when he come back reservation. He must face with the losing the people he love, his grandma, his sister and his father best friend.
With the feeling of a fourteen- year-old boy, readers can see what happened in reservation, the racism… this is a good novel about family, friend ship and the relationship between people and people.


message 26: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Jackie wrote: "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is about a young boy named Arnold Spirit that goes by Junior. The story is simply all about Junior's..."


Hi Jack!
i really like this book and I love the spirit of it, even Junior was born and grew up in a place that it don't have good condition but he always try all his best to have the best life , even thought he must face with some bad situations. with the teenagers eyes, Junior give us the way to look at the life, it is really simple!


message 27: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Diana wrote: "This book speaks the truth of Junior's life. Throughout the book, he explains the stereotypes that Native Americans dealt with and how they are treated (ex: Indians feel half the pain than white pe..."

Hi Diana!
i agree with you, some time it make me sad when his grandma pass away..., but but the all the novel we can feel funny by Junior tone and i really love the way he feela bout his life and he keep trying to make the better life


message 28: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Isaiah wrote: "Call me crazy but I really enjoyed reading this controversial novel! The book is written in first-person and narrated by Arnold who is more commonly referred to as Junior, a Native American who liv..."

Hi Isaiah,

I also enjoyed this book. It was well written. I think the fact that Junior wants to leave the school on the reservation was a huge step, especially for a young teen boy. I know that it must have been difficult, but in the end, he was thinking of what it would mean in the long haul. I also believe that you remember books more when you can make a personal connection with it, so it was neat that you were able to do that.


message 29: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments Jackie wrote: "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is about a young boy named Arnold Spirit that goes by Junior. The story is simply all about Junior's..."


I understand why this book is banned but as a parent, I would allow my child to read it. If my child finds this book interesting to read than why should I stand in the way of a kid with a book.


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