The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Review – Sherman Alexie’s Emotional and Attaching Novel That You Need to Read
Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, mimics his own life, and the writing style feels like a memoir. It is about a young boy, struggling through life on a Native American reservation in Washington. It is a coming-of-age novel that has enjoyable characters, a deep coming of age driven plot, mixed with comedic and entertaining dialogue.
Sherman Alexie is a tremendous writer who writes realistic stories from his own experiences. He began his writing career with short stories and poems. One of his most illustrious works is The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven, which is a book filled with many of his connected shorts stories, somewhat like vignettes, and are comprised of one central theme: Native Americans fighting for their lives, against the stereotypes of the world, against racial prejudice and expectations. Another one of his short stories, “Smoke Signals,” which was later turned into a movie, was also related to this same theme. Alexie is a distinguished writer who has won many awards, including the National Book Award for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a book about a young boy named Arnold living on a Spokane reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. The book follows the protagonist through his struggles from being trapped on the reservation because he knows nothing else, to life outside the reservation, and eventually finding a balance between both worlds. The book is expertly crafted. It stresses themes of socioeconomic status, and class in society. It is demonstrated continuously throughout the book. It also describes the racial backgrounds, and the stereotypes that accompany being Native American. These themes are shown through the illustrations, realistic scenarios that move the plot along, and the interaction of the characters.
Arnold is a character that struggles because of his race. He is a Native American on a reservation, where he is trapped from everything else in life. He knows he needs a better life, because the rez is there to “kill the Indian and save the child.” The schools in the reservation are there to kill his culture, to kill everything about him except him. He has an epiphany of how he needs to escape, but because of his culture, and his racial background, stereotypes indicate that he should forever be in the reservation. In his fight to get out the reservation, he struggles with his own people, and his betrayal of his people. He faces the wrath of his own people. He also struggles with the stereotypes that they have put on themselves, the same way the whites have placed stereotypes on them. But he decides that he should test the boundaries and the limits of these expectations. He would travel out of the reservation, into the unknown world, a voyage that would bring a new balance to his life. Arnold would not capitulate to the stereotypes of the world.
But Alexie does not only reference the destruction of the reservation. He references the culture, and how fabulous it is. The pow-wow found in “Revenge in is My Middle Name,” points out both the positive and the negative of his cultural and racial background. It is a nice balance of positive and negative, highlighting what he wants you to see, a truthful balance. His grandmother is one of the best examples of the the positive of the reservation. She is always there for him.
Arnold also struggles with his socioeconomic status. He is stuck on a reservation, where there is little to no way to have a sustainable income. Throughout his childhood, he does not care about how wealthy he is. But when his dog dies, he suddenly realizes what the repercussions of his poverty are. Because of this awakening, he is ashamed of his socioeconomic status; he is in the bottom class, and this affects him negatively. At his school, he constantly hides his poverty from everyone else because he is scared of what they will think. The illustration on page 88 describes this perfectly. It shows how difficult it is for Arnold to just get to school. The same is demonstrated in “Dance, Dance, Dance.” He practices what he would say because he did not want anyone to discover his poverty. But when they finally discovered his poverty, he realized that no one cares; he was one of them, and they did not care that he was poor.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a book that is filled with struggles, triumphs, and a journey through life. It is a fantastic book for any age, culture, and belief. It is a realistic novel that can satisfy your comedy needs and it gives you someone that you can connect with, a relatable figure. It is a book does that does not let you stop reading. Everything draws you in, the characters, the story, the illustrations. It is a fabulous and it is a great read.