50 Books By Authors of Color: Book 1
Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie brings another tragic yet comical tale of life on the Spokane Indian Reservation. The main character Arthur “Junior” Spirit becomes an outcast as he decides to leave the Reservation to attend the all white Reardan High School for a better education than he believes is available at any of the schools on the Reservation. Arthur/Junior is not just an outcast for being the only Indian going to all white Reardan, where the only other Indian is the Mascot, but he is outcast among the people of his tribe for leaving. Arthur feels that he is a part time Indian because on the Reservation he is viewed as “white” while at school he is viewed as “Indian” making him feel as though he doesn’t belong anywhere.
Arthur is left friendless, after his only friend on the Reservation Rowdy becomes his enemy, and struggles to make new, white friends at Reardan. Eventually falling in love with the “translucent” Penelope and making friends with the nerdy Gordy. Arthur continues to try to make peace with Rowdy, sending him an email confessing his love for Penelope, Rowdy responds with “Hey Asshole, I’m sick of Indian guys who treat white women like bowling trophies”. A+ Rowdy, A+.
Anyways, Arthur’s life is without a doubt morose, his family and friends are visited by death again and again, but Arthur tries to persevere, trying out for the basketball team, doing well in his studies, all while battling the poverty, alcoholism and racism that seem to always be stacked against him.
This is not the first Alexie book I’ve read, the first was “Reservation Blues” and I’m pretty certain it won’t be the last. Alexie manages to provide the reader with that same uncomfortable humor in a believable tale of a young man who leaves the Reservation in hope of a better education, only to be faced with the reality of what leaving means for him and his tribe.
Overall Rating 4/5