sherman alexie

Overcoming Adversity and Finding Identity: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Book Review


Book Summary// Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.


Book Review// Reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian brought back flashbacks to days in my college literature class where I first studied and read The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.  Alexie’s humorous writing style, accompanied by comical sketches, makes this young adult novel a laugh out loud read. Amidst the humor and funny language, Alexie still finds a way for his readers to care deeply about the tough situations his characters face. Inspired by his own experiences growing up on the Spokane Indian reservation, this journey of an unlucky teen trying to find his true identity in a world that expects him to live a predestined life is one that resonates with many teens and adults alike. 

Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community.

Many of the people on the rez, including Junior's father, are alcoholics.  His father's alcoholism is such as issue that there are days when he is too hungover to come pick Junior up from school, so Junior is forced to walk the 20 miles back home alone in the dark. Alcohol is a force that continues to disrupt Junior's life and many of his loved ones die because of it. His grandmother, however, is one of five Indians in the whole tribe that chooses not to let drinking shut down her senses to the world. She choses to live a life unlike all the others around her and not let what is expected of her dictate the way she lives, something that Junior is struggling to achieve with his own life.  

Why would I want to be in the world if I couldn’t touch the world with all of my senses intact.

Alcoholism is just one of the many tough issues Alexie addresses in this novel. Time and time again Junior has to deal with the hardships of poverty, the aftermath of broken family relationships, and the heartache of death. This novel has the power to change the way we view others from different backgrounds and cultures, as well as illuminate the harsh reality of forced conformity. While this novel is written for young adults it speaks volumes to older generations as well. This cultural perspective account is one that we all need to see and understand. 

Providing many eye-opening experiences, this is a book that will not be forgotten. I highly recommend The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian to anyone interested in a quick, humorous read that address tough issues on life, relationships, individuality, and community. 

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to see the new collection of illustrations and prints inspired by this read. You will not be disappointed! If you like these posts, wait until you find out what I have planned for the fall! Be sure to follow along with Whispering Words and be the first to see what's in store. 

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