The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian
Little, Brown Young Readers, 2007
National Book Award Winner
Told from the first person narrative of Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, the story chronicles a year in his life as a Spokan Indian from Wellpinit, WA, as he bravely decides to go to a high school outside of the reservation in a neighboring White town. Forced to overcome his insecurities as an ethnic outsider and his handicaps and speech impediments having been born with water on the brain, Junior discovers that choosing hope and pursuing his dreams will be the most difficult thing he’s ever done. Those of his own tribe ostracize him, and his new community shuns him. However, his perseverance eventually pays off as he navigates his way through the myriad of difficulties that face him.
Alexie’s work is both surprisingly delightful with beautiful and hilarious moments and shockingly dark, giving poignant commentary on the current state of a once thriving cross-continental culture. To compare it to some current works, the tone of the narrative is a blend between Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Wednesday Wars, replete with drawings that aid the story and give comic relief and rife with intellectual wit that gives insight into White culture, Native American culture and the growing pains of youth.
It’s not surprising that this novel won the National Book Award, and it’s rare to see Native American narratives that delve inward to delineate an entire group of people who have lost their dreams and the hope to accomplish them, who’s communal addiction to alcohol steers both their futures and their deaths, and who view themselves as a broken people who pine for the past. I recommend this book to all readers 12+, however, be warned that there are many elements throughout that will make it a good candidate to be banned from reading lists.
For the Classroom
This is a great classroom companion for social and cultural studies for a comparison of American history and its ramifications on current social situations.
Other Books You May Like