The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

Alexie, S. & Forney, E. (2007). The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Sherman Alexie delivers this autobiographical story about Arnold Spirit's memories as a freshman in high school with brutal honesty, sadness, and humor. After deciding to leave his reservation to attend a better high school 22 miles away, Junior struggles in gaining self confidence, sees the goodness of strangers, and lives with the hatred of his own people, even his best friend, Rowdy. By reluctantly trying out for the basketball team, he see he is worthy of playing well - even against his best friend. Junior appreciates the harsh reality of what it means to be Indian in a white world - and finds peace with that.

Alexie is a brilliant writer who has somehow uncovered the brutal truth of what it's like to struggle with what it means to live a life of a people who have been neglected for generations. Alcoholism, domestic violence, death, and a defeated mentality are a few themes that Alexie explores in this novel. After reading this piece, I felt empowered to write my own story as a part-time Mexican-American, if there could be such a thing.  His use of wit and humor bolstered me to find value and courage in retelling my darkest moments.

Alexie has been writing for over twenty years, (and I feel more sorry that I've only just met him). His other works include the following.  The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight In Heaven is about a young boy named Victor who struggles with the grim reality of living the life of a modern Indian and the customs that identified his ancestors.

Thunder Boy Jr. is about a young boy who wants to claim his own name. Although he looks up to his father, he doesn't necessarily want to be named after him.  He and his father search for a name that he can rightfully earn.

In the following video, Alexie explains why he idolizes heroic ideas as opposed to literary people.

Sherman Alexie's Literary Heroes? Literary Works


Requirement: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
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