Thursday, October 11, 2007

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

wow. i mean, wow. it doesn't happen very often that a book blows me away like this, but when it does, words barely suffice. i'd been waiting for this book to come in for a while. i had read the reviews and was eager to get it for the collection. as soon as it had been processed i eagerly snapped it up despite the fact that i had about 15 other books at home that i was thinking about reading. and am i glad i did. i read alexie's book in about 4 hours, it was so good i just couldn't put it down. this is a memoir in the way of 'angela's ashes', 'a million little pieces', or 'night'. alexie writes into the story of 14 year old arnold spirit jr. experiences and memories of his own life growing up disabled, poor, and with alcoholic parents on the spokane indian reservation in washington. junior, who was born with hydrocephalus is loved and protected by his family and his best friend rowdy on the reservation, but that isn't enough to help a nerdy looking kid from being a constant target for bullies. so after an incident involving a repentant geography teacher, a text book and a broken nose, junior decides that if he ever wants something more for his life he's going to need to get off the reservation, and the way to do that when you're 14 is to attend the high school in the white town 22 miles away. at reardon junior works to break down the racist barriers that exist and must stand up to the ostracization at home that comes from people's perception that he has turned his back on his tribe. alexie tells the story with such power that the reader can't help but be drawn into junior's life and be taught sympathy. the absolutely true diary is an absolutely brilliant book, and as neil gaiman said, there is no doubt that 'in year or so it'll both be winning awards and being banned.' well, it's already been nominated for the national book award and is number 3 on the new york times bestseller list for children, so i'd say it's well on it's way to fulfilling that prophecy.

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