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The Compulsive Reader: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie

One book I read this past semester that I had never read before (gasp) was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I picked it up because (honestly), it was the first on a stack of MUST-READ books that teeters precariously in the corner of my bedroom. It was an ARC. Yes, I still have ARCs from 2007 in my to-read. This makes me feel marginally better about all of the other ARCs I keep holding on to--SOME DAY, I will read them. (Hopefully.)

Anyway.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

When Junior decides to leave his reservation school to attend the all-white high school in a nearby town, he’s faced with tremendous backlash—from his new classmates and his reservation community. Junior has always been picked on for being different, but he’s certain that this action is the only way he can create a future for himself.


This novel/graphic novel hybrid is unexpectedly perceptive and extremely funny, even in its moments of tragedy. The unconventional structure seems messy and off-putting at first—chapters read like vignettes or short stories, Junior often goes off on tangents, and the reader doesn’t realize how the events are connected—or even chronologically placed—except in retrospect. Yet, the conversational tone and stunning insights oppression and humanity just make it all work. Alexie also uses humor in the most heartbreaking and unexpected ways to deconstruct the racism and abuse Junior faces. His use of humor and irony makes his story a little easier to read about (though not much), but it also provides an access point between Alexie and the reader, a way for the reader to develop empathy for Junior. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian should be on everyone’s reading list.

ARC provided by publisher, many years ago.

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