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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian [Paperback]

Sherman Alexie
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
RRP: £6.99
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Book Description

5 Jun 2008

In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school. This heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written tale, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character's art, is based on the author's own experience and chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he seems destined to live.

Illustrated in a contemporary cartoon style by Ellen Forney.

Frequently Bought Together

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian + The House on Mango Street + Black Boy: A Record of Youth and Childhood (Vintage Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Andersen (5 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842708449
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842708446
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A gem of a book . . . may be Sherman Alexie's best work yet" (New York Times)

"It's humane, authentic and, most of all, it speaks" (Guardian)

"A remarkable tale that is sure to resonate and lift spirits of all ages to come" (USA Today)

"Emotionally spring-loaded, linguistically gymnastic and devastatingly funny" (San Francisco Bay Guardian)

"A coming-of-age story so well observed that its very rootedness in one specific culture is also what lends its universality" (starred review Publishers Weekly)

Book Description

The heartbreakingly funny semi-autobiographical story of an American Indian boy who manages to leave the reservation despite overwhelming odds.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too 10 Oct 2008
By TeensReadToo TOP 500 REVIEWER
I'll admit -- I put off reading THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN for well over a year, in favor of more "exciting" books. Boy, what a mistake I made!

Told from the perspective of thirteen-year-old Arnold Spirit, an intelligent, observant, sarcastic Indian born with encephalitis and a love of cartooning, Sherman Alexie takes us along with him as he moves away from a circumscribed, oppressive life on the Spokane reservation towards a more promising future by attending an all-white school thirty miles away.

Never one to get bogged down in sentiment or self-pity, Mr. Alexie refuses to present Arnold's friends and family as one-dimensional stereotypes, nor is the world beyond "rez" borders portrayed as the Great White Hope. Arnold's family has problems, to be sure: an alcoholic father, an enabling, codependent mother; a near shut-in older sister. But their love for each other is evident through their words and actions. And despite the ostracism and ridicule heaped upon him by former friends and other tribe members, Arnold reacts with biting wit rather than total despair.

This has to be one of the best books I've ever read in my life, so I hope everyone gives it a try.

Reviewed by: Cat
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book--razor sharp and totally on point 14 Sep 2007
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is the first book written by Sherman Alexie specifically for a young adult audience. I finished it in two days but have been holding onto my copy because I've been having a hard time articulating why I might love this book.

If you have read anything by Alexie, you know that he writes about life on the Spokane Indian reservation in Washingotn. In Reservation Blues Alexie described the misadventures of Thomas Builds-the-Fire and his friends as they try to start a band (and deal with the relative fame that follows). Like Reservation Blues, this novel is filled with equal parts humor and tragedy along with some memorable characters thrown in to taste. What surprised me about Diary is that it is also more biting that Reservation Blues. At times Alexie's descriptions of white-Indian relations and life on the rez are so scathing that they're painful to read. And yet . . . I couldn't put the book down.

Now that you are sufficiently intrigued, let's talk about the plot.

This story revolves around Arnold "Junior" Spirit, his family and his best friend, Rowdy. We join Arnold at the beginning of the novel at the age of 14. Born with a variety of physical ailments, Arnold is used to being picked on. He doesn't mind, though, because he knows he has his art and his intelligence and his family. Things get complicated for Arnold when he realizes that he has to leave the reservation in order to get a good education and succeed where most of his family and friends have failed. So Arnold starts going to the all-white school in a neighboring all-white town.

As the story progresses, Arnold grapples with his decision and trying to figure out his identity in his new surroundings.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Brilliance! 27 July 2010
By BeatleBangs1964 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Sherman Alexie is a genius. It's as simple as that.

This wonderfully funny, serious and moving book is a roman a clef of Alexie's life. His protagonist, Arnold Jr. is some 25 years younger than his real counterpart. The story is set in the 2006-2007 school year. Alexie's character, Arnold Jr. was born on November 5, 1992, the same day his best friend Rowdy was born. The two couldn't be more different, yet they form a rock solid bond.

Arnold's sister Mary, some several years his senior leaves the reservation to get married. She moves to Flattop Montana where she pursues her dream, which is to write a Native love story. Prior to her marriage, she had been living in the family basement, rarely venturing out.

Arnold, on the other hand ventures far and beyond the "rez," as the reservation is called. He and Rowdy share a love for comics and it is the clever drawings in this book that make it all the more endearing and humorous. Arnold, born with water on the brain (hydrocephalus) suffered from seizures the first 7 years of his life. He also wore Buddy Holly style glasses, which further emphasize the differences he feels in himself when compared to his peers.

Rowdy, however, treats Arnold like an equal. They exact revenge on adult triplets who have bullied and harassed them. They share laughs, tears and even guy bonding over similar interests. That is, until Arnold decides to leave the reservation school of Wellpinit for Reardan, the school in town. His decision is prompted by his anger at the old materials in Wellpinit and by a teacher who steps up to the plate for him after he gets an in-your-face idea of how disaffected Arnold really is.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A My Favourite Books Blog Review 13 Mar 2011
By My Favourite Books VINE VOICE
Like a lot of readers of kids' fiction in the UK I have been aware of this book for some time. I didn't think about picking it up until The Booksmugglers went and reviewed it and basically made me want to move heaven and earth to read it. I bought it in and it took some time for me to get to it.

And when I did, I read it one single day. Several sittings, but one day. I even annoyed people on Twitter by tweeting about it. Constantly.

I loved Part-time Indian because of the author's voice. Or rather, because of Junior's voice. It was so frank and true and honest and above all laugh-out-loud funny, that I never ever for a moment doubted what I was reading. I became so involved with his story that I sat at work, by myself, as no one else was in, and cried and laughed like an unhinged person.

Junior's trials and tribulations reminded me a bit of Diary of a Wimpy Kid but where Wimpy Kid is set in suburbia with suburbia problems, in Junior's story he has to deal with alcoholism, poverty, bullies, prejudice and blatant racism.

It sounds awful, and it is. Sherman Alexie does not shy away from these subjects. And as much as he highlights them, and doesn't baulk from the reality living in a world that seems as harsh as it is, it is Junior's matter of fact, almost stream of concsiousness telling that keeps the story from becoming tedious and a misery memoir. He tells freely of his life growing up on the reservation and his subsequent escape to the nearby town's "white" school where he is looked upon initially as this weirdo freak Indian kid.

Slowly but surely, he's accepted as part of the school community, especially when it turns out that he's a good basketball player.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent novel for young adults
An excellent novel for young adults. Humorous yet filled with conflict. As an English teacher I would not recommend this for conservative readers. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Col
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Bought this as a present for a teenage boy and response was very good.
Published 1 month ago by Karen
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and moving read
Fantastic book. I keep buying copies for friends. Is for young adults but older readers will love it too. Great cartoons. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ez
5.0 out of 5 stars Huge hit
Bought this for my teenage daughter who said it's probably the best book she's ever read (and she reads A LOT). Praise indeed :-)
Published 7 months ago by Varied Read
5.0 out of 5 stars Read a bit to Lloyd (11) - he was hooked
he's obsessed with Skulldugery books, which is fine, but I wanted to try him with something else. I knew he'd enjoy it but had to bribe him to sit still while I read the first... Read more
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5.0 out of 5 stars So funny and sad
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must for secondary high schools
My students have been reading this book for almost five years and they cannot put it down. Not only does it concern about the personal life and achievements of the protagonist, it... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Lalorock
5.0 out of 5 stars My son loved this!
My son was completely taken with this and read it cover to cover within days. He is eleven years old.
Published 11 months ago by Helen in Marton
5.0 out of 5 stars a very enjoyable read
Full of humour, unique voice, serious themes, yet very easy to read. Am considering studying it with my EFL students. (5th year of English)
Published 13 months ago by C. H.
5.0 out of 5 stars Adrian Mole on the reservation
The story is actually heartbreaking but the writer has put so much humour and absurd situations in it that you can laugh along with the main character. Read more
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