Posts Tagged With: diary

Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – 4 of 5

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

diary

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!)

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Book Review: A Woman in Berlin – 5 of 5

A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary by Anonymous

berlin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book. Just wow. I don’t know what it is about WWII stories, but I love them, and this one is no exception. There are so many things that make this a must-read. It’s a side that we don’t always see when it comes to WWII literature – this diary takes place in Berlin, from the perspective of a German woman, as the Russians come in. It’s only been in recent years that we’ve really started to hear about the horrible things that happened in Germany, to Germans, because of the war. This gives the reader just one horrifying glimpse.

This book is by anonymous. This woman was having a hard time dealing with what she knew would be her fate and started to write it all down. She was some kind of journalist, or in publishing, before and must have found writing comforting. She chronicled her life as the Russian victors came in and took what they wanted – namely the beds of every female. It’s a story about survival. She chose one path to stay alive and she made note of the paths others took. She wrote about what went right and what went wrong, she wrote about being hungry, about not having light, about not being safe, about where life might go. This diary feels like it was written from the soul and it’s amazing that we can all now read it.

It’s not just about the occurrences of the days. It about some of the fascinating things she mentions. She hypothesizes on why the invaders rape, why they choose who they do, why they have to be drunk, how the community reacts to the rapes, how the ration cards can still be so organized – any number of things. She talks about grander ideas of war and masculinity –

“These days I keep noticing how my feelings toward men – and the feelings of all the other women – are changing. We feel sorry for them; they seem so miserable and powerless. The weaker sex. Deep down we women are experiencing a kind of collective disappointment… Among the many defeats at the end of this war is the defeat of the male sex.”

It’s just such a great, short, chronicle of a horrible time in history. Highly recommend for everyone, but especially anyone who is fascinated with WWII.

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