Bibliographic information: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Sherman Alexie. Margaret K. Recorded Books Inc., 2008. $46.99. 5hrs. ISBN-13: 978-1428182974.
Summary: Arnold Spirit lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. His family has been a part of the reservation for as long as he can remember. Nobody ever left the reservation. After a close family friend dies from getting shot by a friend when they had too many drinks, Indians liked to drink a lot, Arnold is confronted by one of his teachers. He is told to leave, to get out and find something better for his life. Nobody leaves the reservation, but after some prodding Arnold finally decides to leave.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 12 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: This book is packed full of wit and humor. Alexie is able to take situations that would otherwise make somebody break out in tears and turn them into a humorous affair. The script is well written and is well performed, by the author himself. The characters show good development throughout the story. We get to see Arnold grow and come out of his shell to expand his world beyond the reservation. Alexie covers all the common issues a growing teen goes through and puts them out there in all their glory and truth. He doesn’t hold back or make excuses, just tell it like it is. This is a wonderful book for all readers.
Readers’ annotation: Nobody leaves the reservation. Nobody that is until Arnold Spirit does. Now he has to face the world outside of the res.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Teens will be able to relate to Arnold’s character. He is just like any other teen. He has to deal with growing up, not knowing why his body reacts the way it does, start at a new school and not know what the other students will think, he has to deal with their judgements and makes judgements of his own. All of these things are common among teens and therefore, teens that read this book will be able to relate and gain different perspectives out of the material.
Issues present: This book portrays alcohol use like it is no big deal. A lot of characters died from the use of too much alcohol. Also, it has some racist slurs that people might object to. The important thing to remember is that the use of alcohol casually is not uncommon among teens and reading about it will not encourage them to drink more, they will just feel like they can relate to the characters in the book. And the racism in the book will elicit discussions among teens about the rights among races and the wrong with racism.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Arnold Spirit’s character.
Being an Indian is not what everybody things it to be…
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: coming of age, death and heartache, love
Readalikes: Revealing Eden, American Born Chinese, Other Sherman Alexie novels
Author’s website: http://www.fallsapart.com/
Awards: National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (2007), School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2007), American Indian Library Association Award, South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2010), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2008) Florida Teens Read Nominee (2009), American Indian Youth Literature Award for Best Young Adult Book (2008), Horn Book Fanfare (2007), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2008), Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction and Poetry (2008), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2011), James Cook Book Award Nominee (2009)
Reviews: School Library Journal: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6476720.html; Boolist: http://www.booklistonline.com/The-Absolutely-True-Diary-of-a-Part-Time-Indian-/pid=2629624
Why I chose it: I have had many people tell me how great this book is on audio book so I thought I would give it a try, and it added a great racism book to my collection.