Tuesday, June 30, 2009

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

This is a YA novel I picked up on the recommendation of a very old friend, one of my oldest in fact, a guy I've known since we were in first grade together and who was one of my best friends in high school. The reason he recommended the book is that it's at least partially autobiographical, and his son was one of Sherman Alexie's best friends. His son's name is Gordy, and a boy by that name plays a big part in the novel. If the real Gordy is anything like the one in the book, my friend can be justifiably proud.

As for the book itself, it's an amazingly whacked-out combination of humor and grief. It has some of the saddest things I've read in the YA novels I've looked at, and some of the funniest. You'll laugh, but it'll break your heart. Some of the funny scenes are also the saddest.

The main character, Arnold Spirit, or Junior, is a Seattle Indian, and he lives on the reservation. He decides to leave the reservation and attend a school that has no Indians, only white kids. He knows he has to break away, but he feels guilty for doing it. He leaves behind his best friend, who then turns on him. Arnold feels like an outcast on the reservation and in school. He's pulled both ways and seems to belong nowhere.

Alexie is a balls-to-the-wall storyteller, and I think a lot of adults who read this blog would find a lot to like in this book.

8 comments:

Gerard Saylor said...

Alexie is a great storyteller in person, too. I heard Alexie at either a Library conference or on C-SPAN sometime within the past year or two and he did a great job.

Gerard Saylor said...

It was C-SPAN. At the 2007 TX Book Festival http://booktv.org/Program/8898/2007+Texas+Book+Festival+Sherman+Alexie+quotAbsolutely+True+Diary+of+a+PartTime+Indianquot.aspx

pattinase (abbott) said...

Alexie is one terrific writer. It's great to have his voice speaking to kids.

Todd Mason said...

Of course, he's climbing the Banned ranks, because of his Bad themes and such. Alexie is not shy about touring, and has had publisher support to do so. I like his work a lot, too.

VANILLA RIDE arrived in the mail today here at work. To make the cover less startling to any officemates who are easily startled, I'll have to print out all those pictures of Kasey from Joe's blog. Ah, the obligations of art aficion.

Todd Mason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Troy said...

Yeah, it's a great book and Alexie is a hoot at personal appearances. He could be a stand-up comic.

Patti O said...

I really enjoyed this book also, and need to do a lot more to promote it to my library's teens (and adults!).

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I have those cowboy and Indian figures from the cover.