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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too
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...
Published on 10 Oct. 2008 by TeensReadToo

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3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading!
This isn't a book that I would've necessarily picked up myself, but I enjoyed reading it and considering why it is a banned book. It's not as controversial as some banned books are, but this book does make you think about sensitive issues such as racism. Still, I think this book is worth a read.
Published 2 months ago by Chrissi Read


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, 10 Oct. 2008
By 
TeensReadToo "Eat. Drink. Read. Be Merrier." (All Over the US & Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Paperback)
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Brilliance!, 27 July 2010
By 
BeatleBangs1964 (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Paperback)
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.

Rowdy and some of the other rez residents call Arnold an "apple," (red on the outside, white on the inside) and brand him a turncoat for leaving the reservation school. Reardon is some 22 miles away, so Arnold is at the mercy of whoever is able to drive him there. Once there, he discovers a different code of social conduct among his peers and even makes some friends. His father's best friend, a delightful man named Eugene sometimes chauffers him on his "iron pony," a classic 1946 motorcycle. At Reardan Arnold can spread his falcon wings as opposed to beating them in one place. He can soar academically and with the school basketball team. While there, he learns that he can take his heritage wherever he is; he is not a turncoat and that his heritage is part of his identity and his moving beyond the place where he grew up gives him a chance to offer cultural sharing. In turn, people who are unfamiliar with reservation life share in turn. Arnold, the boy born with water on the brain and who once suffered from seizures and whose father drinks too much can stand tall on the reservation and beyond. He has soared like a falcon.

This is an excellent book and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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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 (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Paperback)
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. His inclusion in the team made me fistpump the air and his subsequent friendship with the coach rang wonderfully true. I liked the fact that the secondary characters showed true emotion and that especially the adults in the book weren't just there as decoration. Again, especially the coach of the basketball team. I liked that there was no easy way out - that his inclusion in the team didn't suddenly mean that his life was okay. It didn't change the fact that he came from a very poor family. It didn't change the fact that his parents were both alcoholics. But what it did change was Junior. He grew wonderfully as a person and reached a maturity level that made him realise a great many truths about his life, where he comes from and where he's going. This is one of those truly rare books that although the subject matter is amusing because it is told in a funny way, it deals competently and cleverly with a lot of issues people would rather not think about. But in the end, there is this great sense of elation and life affirmingness to it, and you can't help yourself: you want to run up to someone and hug them.

I cheered and laughed and cried. I cannot recommend this book enough to you to go out and buy or borrow from a local library. It has within a few hours, whilst reading it, become one of my desert island books.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book--razor sharp and totally on point, 14 Sept. 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. With the additions of love, rivalry, and basketball Alexie has enough twists to keep the most impatient readers enthralled. The illustrations by Ellen Forney also really add to the text.

In Reservation Blues and some of his other works, Alexie brings up the issue of alcoholism and heavy drinking on the reservation. The subject comes up again here. I can't say that I understand heavy drinking as a past time in general-it remains equally perplexing here. At the same time, Alexie aptly shows the damage that one too many bottles of . . . whatever . . . can cause, which is part of why I think this novel is really important.

But you won't be reading this book just because I happen to think it's important. No. I expect that you will find yourself charmed by Arnold and his unique outlook on life and opportunity. I know I did.

Like Alexie's other writing, this book is poetic and beautiful but still razor sharp.

When I finished reading, I didn't know what to say-so much so that I wanted to immediately re-read it. (It's the kind of book that you can do that with.) I think that's the best response you can have to a book: when it's so good it leaves you speechless.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go! Get this book now!, 15 Aug. 2011
By 
Els De Clercq "EDC" (Belgium) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Paperback)
You know what the worst thing is about reviewing a book like The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian? It's that there's no way to capture the magnificence and unity of voice, theme and style and the level of thought and emotion that was put into this novel all in the span of 300 words.

Sherman Alexie does not hold back in The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian and delivers just what the title promises: a semi-autobiographical portrait a 14-year-old Indian boy, Arnold Spirit - Junior - who is literally caught between cultures when he makes the decision to leave the Spokane rez to go to an all white school in Reardan. He does this after one of his reservation teachers tells him to go and "take [his] hope and go somewhere where other people have hope". Staying on the rez means getting stuck in the ugly circle of poverty, depression and slowly killing yourself with booze. As a rule "reservation Indians don't get to realize [their] dreams. [They] don't get those chances. Or choices. [they]'re just poor." (p. 13) Poor and drunk. Junior does not want to be poor, drunk and depressed all the time. He want to be a cartoonist.

While Junior's sister Mary Runs Away runs away "to get lost", Junior himself goes away "because he wants to find something" (p. 46). Himself and his true identity, most of all, and he understands that when he truly wants to become a cartoonist, the rez is not the place for him. At the same time, he tragically realizes that the dream of getting out is not for everyone. The internal struggle of sometimes only being a `part-time' Indian, makes Junior cry a lot in this book. He cries for instance for the fact that he knows that many of the tribesmen and -women on the rez are sad alcoholics and are as such not only killing their bodies, but also their spirit, their heritage and he thinks they should also kick and scream and want to get out.

The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian is a tragic, emotional tale of a boy growing up. A boy who has to grow up in the harshest of circumstances. But also a boy who realizes that he is Not Just An Indian. He's also a proud member of Professional Masturbators League (if such a thing existed). He's also a cartoonist. He's also a bookworm etc. He realizes that one thing cannot define who you truly are, and should definitely never decide or restrict who you want to become.

The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian is also one hell of a funny book! Despite the extremely gloomy and depressing (and very true) experiences of the (Spokane) reservation Indians that Sherman Alexie describes, this book will have you pee your pants with laughter . It's funny, it's sad, it's hopeful, it's so horribly real. Go and run. Get this book now!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Effortless and enchanting read, 17 July 2011
By 
Mr. N. Moffatt (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Paperback)
This is a great little book that has the look and feel of a children's publication, yet it is principally for adults (there is a warning for children to avoid the book on the back cover).

The story is interspersed and enhanced by wonderful drawings throughout, describing a native American's experiences moving away from a reservation to a mostly non-Indian school. Every so oftem you have to stop reading to take in a sharp observation on life. This is what swung me to give it 5 stars.

Delightful and fun, a model of effortless reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good read, 27 May 2011
By 
Ali (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Paperback)
This book is very funny and littered throughout with Arnold's cartoons. But it's also pretty heatbreaking. Why is it heartbreaking? Basically because Arnold's life sucks. He has hydrocephalus resulting in brain damage and a whole plethora of health issues, he has ten too many teeth (which get pulled out all at once by a dentist who believes Indians only feel half as much pain as others so only need half as much Novocaine) and everybody wants to, and do, beat him up (including thirty year old triplets!) because of these problems, except for Rowdy, his best and only friend.

And this all happens in the first 20 or so pages. So, yeah, heart completely shattered at this point.

But Alexie manages to mend my heart by making Arnold a funny and mostly well adjusted character. He knows that in order to have any sort of success in life, he needs to go to Reardan High. And if that causes him grief at the rez, then so be it, he gets grief there anyway. Reardan isn't even a great school, it's merely okay, but it's better than the school on the rez where the books are at least thirty years old.

Of course, Alexie shatters my heart again. Reardan is thirty miles away from the rez and Arnold's family, like those around him, are dirt poor so a lot of the time he hitchhikes to and from school.

"After school, I'd ride the bus to the end of the line and wait for my folks.
If they didn't come, I'd start walking.
Hitchhiking in the opposite direction.
Somebody was usually heading back home to the rez, so I'd usually catch a ride.
Three times, I had to walk the whole way home.
Twenty-two miles.
I got blisters each time."

It sometimes felt like lather, rinse, repeat. This, to me, took away some of the impact from the more emotional latter half of the novel.

The main characters were well rounded. Yes, Arnold's parents were alcoholics but they also loved their son, spent time with him, talked to him and, more importantly, listened. There was a section of the book where Arnold compared his dysfunctional family to those of the white kids he went to school with. Their parents were never around, never see their kids, never talk or listen to them. Guess what Arnold preferred. Even the kids at Reardan, from the jock to the pretty girl, had depth. The book was as much a character study of those around him as it was of Arnold himself.

It was a novel I enjoyed, and one I'd recommend, but not one I fell in love with.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of [...], 29 Mar. 2012
By 
This review is from: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Paperback)
I absolutely loved this book from the first page to the last! It took me a while to pick this up, considering it was published back in 2007, and all I can say is that I wish I had picked this up sooner. There have been a lot of positive reviews for this book, but until you read it for yourself, it's hard to see why - I think that it's something that you've got to experience for yourself. On the front of my copy, Neil Gaiman is quoted saying that the book will likely "win awards and be banned" - how appropriate!

This book is about a teenager, Arnold (AKA Junior), his adolescence and his experience trying to break free of the Indian reservation where he lives in order to attend an all-white school. Junior isn't your average teenager and unlike the rest of the school, he is not white. Junior is a Native American who finds himself discriminated against not only because of his race but his appearance - he describes himself as geeky and with a lisp. He doesn't tell us this in a deeply depressed way though - just as a matter of a fact. Junior has a direct way of talking to us and he doesn't leave anything out. We get to hear about issues such as racism, alcoholism, poverty and death amongst other things but, somehow, Alexie always managed to weave in a sense of positivity and humour (a lot of humour!). There were a whole load of tragic events happening around Junior, but he always seemed to be able to make me laugh with his (often dirty, usually black humoured) jokes, his observations and the illustrations.

The narration reminded me a lot of Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower in the sense that I could connect with him and found him very endearing. This is also a very quotable book! Junior is vulnerable, he is unsure, but he is courageous and determined. He talks about adult things with his own teenage understanding, yet also manages to come up with some profound sentiments. I love how he put his thoughts across in such a simple but sometimes meaningful way. I haven't experienced anything like the lifestyle that Junior has, but I could still relate to him - I think that everybody will be able to find a little piece of their teenage selves within these pages.

As you can tell, I really enjoyed this book. I don't actually know what else to say about this book as it is something that you've got to connect with yourself. I am a big fan of contemporary YA and if you are too, then you should definitely check this one out! I haven't read anything else by Sherman Alexie, but I'll be sure to check out his other work! Young adult readers - Go,
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4.0 out of 5 stars It reads like a Louis Sachar book, 5 Jan. 2009
By 
The Honest Cynic (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Paperback)
A case of misleading title with this book, perhaps I should complain under the Trade Descriptions Act? ... Okay, I kid you, although I did pick up the book with thoughts of tropical India, elephants and cattle roaming free and mango trees surrounding rice fields, only to delve in and find out it's about native American Indians... oops.

Aside from the confusing book title, you get into the mind of Junior, the teenage native Indian narrator, quickly. Poor guy. He actually thinks he's pathetic, coming from his poor background. From the way he looks to the way people perceive him, all written from his heart and illustrated throughout (he draws). People pick on him because of the way he looks, because he's clever, and because he lives on a reservation.

When he decides to do something with his life (a big step for a teenager) and leave his old school in favour of one with prospects, people in his community turn on him for doing something different. Even his best friend. He even meets a beautiful white girl, one that he falls with.

As well as being an honestly written fictional diary (including lots of lewd sexual references!), it also raises issues of social pressure, racism and even prejudice within communities for being different. Although not as relevant to a British readership as it would in America, it still opens your eyes to social and cultural differences, something the teenage audience reading it can think about.

I picked it up by accident, but it's a worthy read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 5 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Paperback)
I first heard about this book because it was on a book list for a children's lit module I am taking at uni, and I'm so glad I have read it. The books chronicles the life of Junior, a Native American Indian as he grows up and deals with many social issues both on and off the rez, including death, alcoholism, racism, eating disorders and coming of age. While many people might look at that list and think it inappropriate for their children, Sherman Alexi deals with these issues sensitively and through the eyes of a young teenager, giving a very empathetic account of how to cope with issues like this, which is far more than children will get from, say, Grand Theft Auto or even things like James Bond.

This book comes with a warning that it is unsuitable for younger readers and that it has sexually explicit content, but compared to say, the last Twilight book, the sexual content is mild and, quite frankly, normal (unlike falling in love with a member of the undead). The pictures make it easy to read and visualise characters and the informal tone means that it could potentially be an excellent book for reluctant readers (particularly boys). Above all, this book is awesome :) and should be celebrated and cherished.
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Paperback - 5 Jun. 2008)
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