A Review of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

I have tackled quite a few books in the last few weeks, enjoying having completed the 2015 Reading Challenge.  Don’t get me wrong, I still choose books somewhat with the concern in mind if they meet one criteria better than the book that is already there, but for now I am trying to just read what looks good. (And if they can sneak into a category for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s challenge, that works for me too.) I have a whole list of planned reading for future, not doubt scintillating, blog posts that I have not yet started. Those bloggers over at Bustle who write up these delicious book lists (that I swear Amazon has something to do with because I am always drifting over to Amazon to check out prices and availability when I see all the tastiness that is on their lists) dangled this beaut before me a few times and I threw categories to the wind! But this one could work for book you can read in a day.  So much for categories to the wind.  Anyway.

The final impetus was the day it was on sale at Audible and somehow they knew to email me about it when I didn’t even think it was in any of my wish lists.  To hell with privacy nowadays, someone out there who is full of market research (and probably data surreptitiously gathered from me…yes Amazon I intend to get through the first Outlander book, at least…) has me pegged and gets me hook line and sinker every…single…time.

The subject of today’s post is a book that gets and deserves a post all of its own:

the absolutely true diary of a part time indian

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

I love this book for the fact that it is as much a performance piece as it is a book. The blurb says that this main character is a cartoonist, but that fact was missed on me because I went all audio with this baby.  It is narrated by the author, who perfectly encapsulates the character’s sing song native American accent, which he describes in the book. I have no basis for understanding what his character is supposed to sound like and it would be missing that added dimension without it.

This book is also critically important. YA reaches an impressionable audience of teenagers who are beginning to understand the world and their ability to affect change and difference in the world and in themselves. Despite popular opinion at times, I have also found teenagers to be empathic, compassionate creatures more often than not, even when others have not been that way to them.

This book brings into sharp focus the lives and plights of the Native American poor in our country, an oft overlooked group, probably because the white settlers committed such a horrendous genocide against them.  Not only is this story complex because of the Native American piece, but the main character is also a disabled fourteen year old boy who is also very bright and very much a regular fourteen year old boy with embarrassing and heart wrenching moments that are so painfully relatable and funny.  This book has important messages for an empathic and powerful group of readers.

Teenagers, you are not alone in your weirdness, your not knowing where you belong, your trying to navigate relationships, trying to figure out where you will make a life for yourself and the tragedies that happen that are often completely out of your ability to control.

Our world of budding adults can use this story to gain empathy for the Native Americans and the poor. I think it should be assigned to high school kids.  I think they should listen to it and look at the probably hilarious drawings in the books.  It probably would have done me better to read this in high school than A Tale of Two Cities, which I had to revisit through the lens of adulthood to really appreciate because I know I was not fair to it in the first go. I appreciate the need to have kids tackle less familiar material in high school to prepare them for all the tackling that needs to be done in college, but we need a world of kind, empathic people who are willing to think flexibly, too.  It is no surprise this book was continually put in my path (am I really that easy to figure out?) before I tackled it in nearly five fun hours of audio.

This book is an absolute recommend, even if YA is not one of your favorites.  It is one of those find reasons to drive somewhere or walk ten more minutes on the treadmill because it’s so funny and so sad that you cannot disengage from it books.

I love comments.  Please leave your thoughts and impressions.

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