Tuesday, March 25, 2014
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
I've been wanting to read this book for awhile--many of my friends have given it high ratings on Goodreads--and another friend recently urged me to read it after she'd read it for her book group. I'm glad I finally got around to it.
It's the story of Junior, who is keenly intelligent and creative in spite of being brain damaged at birth. He doesn't fit in well on the Spokane Indian Reservation and soon finds a way to go to the white school nearby. His community is not happy with him to say the least, including his best friend, who feels betrayed. It reminded me of a high school friend who got really hurt when I went away to college.
But in spite of the alcoholism, incessant poverty, and too frequent deaths around him--even making it hard for him to get a ride to and from school--Junior excels in his white school. He has the advantage of two parents (and a grandma) who love him, even though his dad is a sad alcoholic.
In addition to the stellar, well-crafted writing (which was distinctly better than the last young person's book I read, My Basmati Bat Mitzvah), Alexie has included cartoons by artist Ellen Forney as Junior's art. The drawings bring the text to life and help the reader understand Junior better.
I love stories of redemption in spite of overwhelming odds, and this is an excellent example of that genre.