The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,’ I said. ‘By Black and White. By Indian and White. But I know this isn’t true. The world is only broken into two tribes: the people who are assholes and the people who are not.”
I’ve come to realize something – young adult books need to be read on paper or e-book only. I listened to this audio book and, though the author was the narrator, which I usually love, the repetition of words and the teenage mind was a cheese grater to my soul at times. You may not have noticed it in book form, but Junior says “wow” a lot.
Even with that, I enjoyed this read. It’s perfect in many ways. We all love an awkward narrator. The voice of the story says it himself – he’s a reject in so many ways. He has his physical ailments, his brains, his emotions, and his will to survive. Every time he takes a step to the left, the rest of his world is stepping to the right. I love how we come upon this kid’s “diary” right at the time when he has figured out that he will never, and can never, fit in. We see him embrace that knowledge and move forward. It’s a great message to anyone of any age.
Alexie does a wonderful job of showing us that core, live wire of reality that every reader can relate to. It’s important to have that because the rest of the book can be quite alienating. Most people who read this, just due to numbers, will have no idea what it’s like to be a Native American, what reservations are like, or any of that. This book give s new perspective on a life not often highlighted.
My favorite scene (let’s see if I can say this without a spoiler) is the final basketball game. I think we as readers realize the David and Goliath role-reversal the same instant Junior does. I felt my elation deflate at the same moment his did. Alexie did such a good job at making that moment a blow to the heart. It was the perfect reality check that seemed to remind us that this book wasn’t going to be Remember the Titans or Friday Night Lights. This wasn’t about a game, it was about a kid’s life, and there was so much more to it than that.
As I’m writing this, I realize I don’t have much bad to say. Still, I can’t quite make it that level 5. Blame it on the audio book and the tell-tale-talk of a teenager. If you’re interested in this, I recommend picking it up in a paperback (or e-reader!)