The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-time Indian

Book - 2007 | First ed.
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Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown, c2007.
Edition: First ed.
Branch Call Number: YOUNG ADULT FICTION
Characteristics: 229 p. :,ill. ;,22 cm.
Additional Contributors: Forney, Ellen

Opinion

From Library Staff

An award winning, hilarious and heart-breaking look at race in America. Junior, a budding cartoonist, leaves his school on the Native American Reservation to go to an all-white farm town school, where the only other Indian is the school mascot. This coming-of-age story reveals the long-lasting im... Read More »

Katherine's pick: Extremely readable young adult title about a Spokane Indian boy who transfers to a nearby 'white' high school. Although full of humour and cartoons, the picture it paints of life on a Native American reservation is deeply saddening. [PS: Alison loves and highly recommends this o... Read More »

List - 2015 - some top books
katccl Sep 10, 2015

Very readable young adult title about a Spokane Indian boy who transfers to a nearby 'white' high school. Although full of humour and cartoons, this is also a sad look at life on a Native American reservation.

List - YA race relations
afictionado Jun 15, 2015

"Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot."


From the critics


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c
chaparalak
May 04, 2021

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, is a fictional novel about a boy named Junior, a native American who lives on the Spokane Indian reservation. He was born with excess spinal fluid in the brain, and doctors said he wouldn’t live for long. Fortunately, he survived, however the condition left Junior with a lisp and stutter, leading to him being bullied by his peers. Junior’s best friend, Rowdy, often promises to protect him, but Rowdy’s own violent tendencies sometimes prevent him from being all that helpful. Junior’s parents are alcoholics and his sister, Mary, spends all her time in the family basement. Junior loves drawing cartoons, and many of his drawings are included in the book. The story involves Junior’s experiences switching to a higher-level school and dealing with the effects of that change. I liked how the novel provided a view into the lives of Native Americans and the struggles they have to go through. I would definitely recommend this to someone who wants to learn more about how different people experience things in different ways, and someone who wants to learn the story about growing up as a Native American.

m
MimiY217
May 01, 2021

This book does an excellent job of walking that thin line between absolutely hilarious and absolutely heart-breaking. Jr will endear himself to you with his sarcasm and self-deprecation so you can't help but feel for him as he goes through the highs and lows of high school and realizes just how unfair that gap is between him and his white classmates. This is an absolutely wonderful read, don't miss out on it!

a
Anita_Dickey
Mar 04, 2021

I read this book to fulfil the goal read a book by an Indigenous author  The United Nations definition:  Indigenous communities, peoples, and nations are those that, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, To be honest, this book caused a conflict of emotions within me. I didn't particularly enjoy it from an entertainment standpoint, but i did live on the reservation for awhile. So i could recognize the accuracy of the writing and the hopelessness that attends the people who live there and other poor neighborhoods even off the reservation.

g
GLNovak
Dec 19, 2020

This was quite an amazing read. Arnold 'Junior' Spirit begins life with huge challenges and so must learn early how to handle himself. He is part of a close community on the Wellpinit Reserve in Washington State, and all around him he sees no hope. Prodded by a teacher, he decides to transfer to a white school twenty-two miles away off the reservation, and the story proceeds. All the issues we read about - drugs, alcohol, poverty, hopelessness - are covered here, but with Arnold's unbelievable hope and courage and positivity and tolerance and love we don't feel discouraged at the end. He sees a path for change and tries to show it to those he loves, and he doesn't give up.

m
micahsmith_0
Oct 04, 2020

Though this book may seem graphic, it really does give a glimpse into a Native American community and the struggle to hope. It's very real.

s
Sean_Exon
Jul 21, 2020

Life on the Spokane Indian Reservation was tough for Junior, a teenage Indian boy. He lived in poverty, had alcoholic parents, bullied by his community and even his best friend was not nice to him. Mr. P, a white teacher, encouraged him to attend an all white high school, Reardon High, outside the reservation where he could get a better education. His parents were supportive of the idea. Being the only Indian student in his new high school caused a lot of tension with the other kids until he punched out the strongest, most popular kid in the school. To his surprise, the other kids accepted him after that.

I genuinely liked this book. It talks about living in poverty, how it feels being the odd one out, and it sheds light on racism. Living in poverty was tough, but the journey to try and work hard to get out of poverty proved to be even tougher for Junior. He was ashamed of being poor so he tried to hide it from his white friends. When he finally had to confess that he was poor, his true friends stood by him. That was a huge lesson he learned that true friendship is not based on whether you are rich or poor. True friendship is loyalty and a bond with the other person. As a teenager, the worst feeling is being the odd one out.

This book also touches on the subject of racism. Junior’s girlfriend was a white blonde hair girl and that her father did not approve of him simply because he was Indian. In one scenario, Junior was admiring his girlfriend playing volleyball wearing a white T-shirt with white shorts, against her light skin color and blonde hair. It seems as though the author used this scene to challenge the reader to think deeper into the issue of racism. Is her father the racist for disliking him for his darker skin color or is Junior a racist for admiring his girlfriend's lighter skin color? The only downside of this book is that it was unnecessarily sexualized. I feel the author used sexuality just to be “cool” for the teen audience. Aside from that, this book is a great read for those interested in a genuine teenage experience.

d
Debrajjbarbour
Jun 03, 2020

This book is pornographic. It is completely inappropriate and should be removed from the library.
The basic premise could go places but the writing is horrendous.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Apr 16, 2020

The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-time Indian gives a new perspective on Native Americans and their lives. A 14 year old native teen named Arnold is its hilarious narrator who walks the story through his journey at the reserve, and moving to a “white” town. At some points this book does include mature language, and some may be offended by the words “Indian” and “white” used but overall it gives a whole new perspective of the difficult lives of Native Americans. The story quickly plays with your emotions because it is constantly jumping from sad themes, then to humour, and then some more sadness. To summarize, The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-time Indian is an eye-opening book that is hilarious and a fun read! 4/5
@UniquePerspective of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

r
red_sheep_101
Mar 09, 2020

This book had me laughing all the way from the start! I could not put it down. The story was also inspiring and gave me a deeper insight into other peoples' lives. Highly recommended!

c
ChaniNew
Jan 12, 2020

A really fun book to read, I never got bored while reading and it had a great message. There is some bad language but it makes it more lighthearted so the book doesn't get too serious; would 100% recommend to anyone looking for a nice quick read.

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Age Suitability

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c
chaparalak
May 04, 2021

chaparalak thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

w
white_crab_93
Nov 23, 2020

white_crab_93 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

s
Sean_Exon
Jul 21, 2020

Sean_Exon thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

s
SusyHendrix
Oct 01, 2019

SusyHendrix thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

i
ItsYourBoiMyles
Apr 10, 2019

ItsYourBoiMyles thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

ArapahoeAlly Aug 22, 2018

ArapahoeAlly thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 13 and 18

b
blue_turtle_1952
Jul 05, 2017

blue_turtle_1952 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

j
jmli
Jul 28, 2016

jmli thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

b
black_bear_515
Mar 11, 2016

black_bear_515 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

blue_fish_456 Jul 16, 2014

blue_fish_456 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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Quotes

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r
randalllee
Jul 10, 2018

“Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community.” - Sherman Alexie

ArapahoeMaryA Sep 27, 2017

If you let people into your life a little, they can be pretty damned amazing.

j
jmli
Jul 28, 2016

"If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing." - Arnold Spirit Jr.

r
rowiek
Jun 22, 2016

"Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community."

j
JoKiser
Jun 12, 2016

"We were supposed to kill the Indian to save the child."

r
rebmartin31
Jun 02, 2016

"I can do it," I said to Coach, to my teammates, to the world.
"You can do it," Coach said.
"I can do it."
...
'Do you know how amazing it is to hear that from an adult? [...] How amazing it is to hear that from anybody? It's one of the simplest sentences in the world, just four words, but they're the hugest words in the world when they're put together. You can do it. I can do it. Let's do it.'

p
pplarel
Jun 28, 2012

pg. 13 "Poverty doesn't give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverence. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor."

pg. 97 "The world, even the smallest parts of it, is filled with things you don't know."

pg. 107 "There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away."

pg. 129 "If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing."

Ólive Jun 17, 2012

When anybody, no matter how old they are, loses a parent, I think it hurts the same as if you were only five years old, you know? I think all of us are always five years old in the presence and absence of our parents.

NSFRA Jun 16, 2012

"Life is never easy"

kimbalee Sep 11, 2009

When anybody, no matter how old they are, loses a parent, I think it hurts the same as if you were only five years old, you know? I think all of us are always five years old in the presence and absence of our parents.

Summary

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j
jmli
Aug 13, 2016

A boy from the Spokane Indian reservation enrolls in a white school, despite the hate and betrayal the rest of his tribe feels.

r
rowiek
Jun 22, 2016

Arnold is a boy who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He has several problems like ‘born with water on the brain’ (he has a big head), he has a poor eyesight, seizures and lips and stutters. This is the reason he is regularly beaten up and calling names like ‘retard’ (for the brain damage) and ‘globe’ (because of his large head). He is very poor and he only has two friends, his dog – Oscar - and Rowdy (a boy who also live on the reservation). When Oscar gets sick his father kills him and now his only friend is Rowdy.

Rowdy has problems on its own. His father abuses him and his mother. He is the only one who wants to protect Arnold (who often is called Junior) from his bullies and physical abuse. On the first high school day Arnold found out that his textbook was used by his mother – so it was approximately fifty-five years old. He knows that alcohol (and because of that almost everyone is poor) is more important to most residents than an education is. Junior decides to transfer from his reservation school to Reardan High, a white school that is more than twenty miles away. All of the ‘white’ kids are rich and have enough money to buy everything they want. Once he arrives, Junior finds that he is the only Indian (besides the school’s mascot) there. He get to know a popular white girl, Penelope, and a very smart boy, Gordy. His best friend on the reservation, Rowdy, stays behind and vows never to speak to Junior—the “traitor”—again. Junior also knows that everyone else on the reservation thinks he is an “apple”: red on the outside but white on the inside. Meanwhile, most of the students at Reardan treat Junior as an outcast as well. Although he is stimulated by the intellectual challenges of Reardan’s advanced curriculum, Junior must fight to improve his social standing both on and off the reservation. He accomplishes this accidentally when he goes out for Reardan’s basketball team. He surprises himself when, as a freshman, he makes the varsity team and eventually even becomes a starting player. Junior’s biggest challenge comes when he must play against his former basketball team from the reservation, whose star player is none other than Junior’s ex–best friend, Rowdy. On the first match Wellpinit wins after Rowdy cheats on Junior. But in the second game Junior is the hero of the day.

b
Books2Ubooktalker
Oct 23, 2012

High school student on the Rez decides to buck tradition and attend the best high school in the region, 22 miles away and almost all White. Funny cartoons. Matter-of-fact.

Booklover1235 Jul 01, 2012

"the absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian" by Sherman Alexie is about a boy named junior who was raised on a reservation and was always made fun of. But when the chance comes to change to a school where he can actually achieve something and do something he has to choose,wether to be called a traitor by everybody he knows or tries to show the Rez that he is willing to push everything aside to prove that there is more to life than drinking.

Ninja_Kevin Jun 17, 2012

I have finished a book called "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie a realistic fiction novel. In this book it is about a Indian boy who is lving on a small rezervation or rez and he has a best friend name Rowdy. They both go to school on the rezervation name Wellpinit. Arnold Spirit a fouteen year old teenager and the protagonist is a book kisser what this mean is that he like to read and write. When he had gone to school , during geometry class Mr.P his teacher had passed out textbooks. When Arnold relizes that he got his mothers textbook that was at least thirty years old he threw it at Mr.P in the face. Then Mr.P came over to his house to talk to him about what he had done. When Mr.P said something like, if you don't leave this rezervation then you will die. Another thing he said was something like if you are the only one who hasn't gave up, every one has gave up even the teachers at his school had gave up even his parents had gave up even his best friend Rowdy had gave up. He also wanted the world to know that he is important. What will happen next?

Ólive Jun 17, 2012

Sherman Alexie’s dark comedy offers up insight about respect, identity and acceptance in unadorned, briskly paced language that will appeal to many teens. Junior Spirit is a Spokane Indian eager to begin high school on his reservation. His hopes of newfound knowledge and opportunities are dashed when he is assigned the same textbook that belonged to his uneducated, impoverished mother thirty years earlier, bringing on a sense of fatalism and despair. Urged by his teacher to respect his dreams and demand more from life than can be expected on the reservation, Junior bravely gathers his dignity and stands up for himself by transferring to a school in a distant town. So begins his search for identity and his place in the world, as “Junior Spirit”, traitor to his people, is ostracized on the rez for consorting with whites, while “Arnold Spirit Junior”, alone, navigates the racism and mystifying cultural rules of an all-white school. “Absolutely True Diary” could easily become a litany of anger, pain and hopelessness; the poverty, alcoholism, violence and incredible death rate chronicled in the novel seems insurmountable. Yet for every tragic event, there is a detail to give us hope or even a laugh, and even the most debauched characters receive understanding and a chance at redemption. Arnold’s cartoon sketches of the people around him, drawn by artist Ellen Forney, amuse and meld seamlessly with the tone of the text. Arnold’s spirit, however, is the most compelling aspect of the book, and his relentless determination to succeed in escaping the fate of his tribe lingers with the reader, making him one of the most inspiring characters in young adult fiction today. Arnold’s quest for a better life proves that acceptance is won by earning respect, and the first step in gaining the respect of others is respecting yourself

w
wrightlibtech
Mar 24, 2012

Sherman Alexie’s dark comedy offers up insight about respect, identity and acceptance in unadorned, briskly paced language that will appeal to many teens. Junior Spirit is a Spokane Indian eager to begin high school on his reservation. His hopes of newfound knowledge and opportunities are dashed when he is assigned the same textbook that belonged to his uneducated, impoverished mother thirty years earlier, bringing on a sense of fatalism and despair. Urged by his teacher to respect his dreams and demand more from life than can be expected on the reservation, Junior bravely gathers his dignity and stands up for himself by transferring to a school in a distant town. So begins his search for identity and his place in the world, as “Junior Spirit”, traitor to his people, is ostracized on the rez for consorting with whites, while “Arnold Spirit Junior”, alone, navigates the racism and mystifying cultural rules of an all-white school.

“Absolutely True Diary” could easily become a litany of anger, pain and hopelessness; the poverty, alcoholism, violence and incredible death rate chronicled in the novel seems insurmountable. Yet for every tragic event, there is a detail to give us hope or even a laugh, and even the most debauched characters receive understanding and a chance at redemption. Arnold’s cartoon sketches of the people around him, drawn by artist Ellen Forney, amuse and meld seamlessly with the tone of the text.

Arnold’s spirit, however, is the most compelling aspect of the book, and his relentless determination to succeed in escaping the fate of his tribe lingers with the reader, making him one of the most inspiring characters in young adult fiction today. Arnold’s quest for a better life proves that acceptance is won by earning respect, and the first step in gaining the respect of others is respecting yourself.

Arnold Spirit is 14 when he makes the life-altering decision to transfer to a school off the Spokane Indian Reservation. The only other Indian at his new school is the mascot.

Notices

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m
MADKC4Ever
Jan 11, 2014

Coarse Language: Lota of curse words/sexual curse words in this book.

m
MADKC4Ever
Jan 11, 2014

Sexual Content: The most prominent situation is a 16 year old boy talking about how he loves masturbation, but there's a lot more sexual references sprinkled throughout the book.

EuSei Sep 19, 2012

Sexual Content: Masturbation

Booklover1235 Jul 01, 2012

Sexual Content: Uses some inappropriate language.

Ólive Jun 17, 2012

Coarse Language: faggot

Ólive Jun 17, 2012

Violence: fight

c
ChocolateChips
Oct 09, 2011

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.

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