Friday, December 14, 2007

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by
Sherman Alexie is about Arnold Spirit, also known as Junior.
He lives on the Spokane Reservation. Junior lives with his
kind but alcoholic father, mother, tolerant grandmother, and
his hermit sister, Mary Runaway. Junior was born with too
much cerebral spinal fluid in his skull. The doctors had to
drain the fluid out of his skull. This surgery led him to
have seizures and other medical problems. Junior cries
easily so he is bullied often on the reservation. His
friend, Rowdy, who is mean and tough but protects Junior, is
the most important person in Junior's life. Another
important person in Junior's life is his father's best
friend, Eugene, who is an optimistic alcoholic. On the first
day of geometry class in his freshmen year of high school,
he notices that his geometry book had been used by his
mother at least thirty years before. Junior becomes angry
and throws the book at his geometry teacher, Mr. P. While
Junior was on suspension, Mr. P. stops by his house. Mr. P.
asks Junior to forgive him because Mr. P feels that when he
was a young teacher, he tried to take away the Indian way of
life. Mr. P. tells Junior that Mary Runaway had wanted to be
a Native American Romance Novelist, but lost her dream after
she left high school. Mr. P. tells Junior that he has to
leave the Reservation in order to find hope. That night,
Junior asks his parents if he can go to Reardan High School.
Reardan High School is a white school where fifty percent of
the school goes on to college. Rowdy beats Junior up when
Junior tells him that he is going to Reardan High School. On
his first day at the new school, Junior punches Roger, the
lead jock at Reardan High School, after Roger makes a racist
joke. Junior earns Roger's respect after that. As time goes
on, Junior begins to adapt to his new life at Readan High
School. He makes some surprising new friends, and even has a
chance to become a superstar. But, in the process, he will
loose his old friend Rowdy even more. When tragedy touches
his family, Junior will have to reconcile with his own
choices in life, and come to terms with the people closest
to him.

I give this book a three. The ideas were all there to
make a good book, but the author did not write it properly.
The author tried too hard to be funny. For example, he told
several jokes about seizures that just fell flat. He also
tried to write as he imagined a teenager would write, even
though he was not a teenager, which didn't really work. A
cartoonist drew cartoons for the book, but they also lacked
humor. I would suggest reading other books on this subject
rather than this one.
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 3

Reviewer Age:17

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