The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Mr. P grabbed me by the shoulders and leaned so close to me that I could smell his breath.

Onions and garlic and hamburger and shame and pain.

"All these kids have given up," he said. "All your friends. All the bullies. And their mothers and fathers have given up, too. And their grandparents gave up and their grandparents before them. And me and every other teacher here. We're all defeated."

Mr. P was crying.

I couldn't believe it.

I'd never seen a sober adult cry.

"But not you. You can't give up. You won't give up. You've been fighting since you were born," he said. "You fought off that brain surgery. You fought off those seizures. You fought off all the drunks and drug addicts. You kept your hope. And now, you have to take your hope and go somewhere where other people have hope."

I was starting to understand. He was a math teacher. I had to add my hope to somebody else's hope. I had to multiply hope by hope.

"Where is hope?" I asked. "Who has hope?"

"Son," Mr P said. "You're going to find more and more hope the farther you walk away from this sad, sad, sad reservation."

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, is about a fourteen-year-old Spokane Indian boy who leaves his school on the reservation for the high-achieving, predominately white high school in a nearby town.

Arnold/Junior is a wonderful narrator, humorous and honest and sensitive, and his drawings are a great addition to the novel. The story exposed me to a culture I’ve really never learned about, namely that of modern reservation Indians. Aside from that, it is thoroughly gripping – I snuck away from dinner so I could go finish a chapter in the bathroom - and manages to be, by turns and sometimes all at once, funny, heartbreaking, and hopeful. I highly recommend it.

Grade: A

N.B. Contains some profanity and a few short passages that I found crude.


Q 7/31/2008 9:28 AM  

I love the "Part-Time Indian" description.

Sookie 7/31/2008 7:43 PM  

I want to read this one so much!

enc 7/31/2008 8:11 PM  

Ah, something new to read.

Edge 8/01/2008 8:31 AM  

Going to the library today...must find...

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