Book Review

 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Review – Sherman Alexie’s Emotional and Attaching Novel That You Need to Read

 

5/5 stars

 

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.

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My First Job Dairy

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(House on Mango Street)

Dear Dairy,

        That was the weirdest and the scariest experience ever. That was very strange. It was my first job, working for the Peter Pan Photo Finishers. I was finishing up my shift, when a some man came up to me. I assumed he would be much more caring to me than he actually was. He had very nice eyes, and he acted like he would be my friend. He even told me that I could sit with him during lunch, in which earlier I had just eaten fast and hid. That was my first example of being naive. When I hid, I was not trying to conquer new things, I was still very childlike in reverting to the only thing I new what to do, which was to hide.

        I  was also very naive when he asked for a birthday kiss. I had no idea what he could do that would be different. Looking back, I was in a blur which was caused by my naiveness. I did not remember what Mr. Benny had said, about how looking like a woman both brings a new look, but also the threats to me. So I just went to kiss him, and I got what I should have been expecting. As soon as he pulled my head, I knew  had made a mistake. He refused to let go, he was doing something to me that I should have been aware of. I was traumatized by what this happened. I felt defenseless. He was trapping me in my innocence and I didn’t no what to do, because of how old he was and how I had never had one of these encounters. Young woman get molested and sexually abused the most, because of there innocence and them not understanding threats. I was scared, because something like this had never happened before. I was growing up, so I had been looked at, and commented on, but never anything near threatening. He did not even ask if he could. I am getting older, but there is still some things that I need to be aware of. When I look older, and when I act older, and do things that older people do, I am faced with the threats of abuse, especially sexually. So I always need to be careful not to grow naive to situation like this and be more aware of myself and what is happening around me.

          I was not aware, and I should’ve been, because I had learned about this same thing earlier on Mango Street, when we got the new shoes. We were looked on, and the same exact experience happened to Rachel, except we were there to protect her. But that does not always happen in life. We need to learn to defend ourselves, because there is not always someone to watch your back. I was naive in that moment, and know I have learned from my mistake. I dressed up like a woman, I acted like a woman, and I got the consequences of when a woman is naive. I was not ready for it, but now I will be, because it has happened before. 

Yours Truly,

Esperanza