This week I am reviewing “The absolutely true diary of a part time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, which is one of the contenders for the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
This is the story of a 15 year old boy (Junior) of the Spokane Indian tribe, living in Wellpinit, WA. He is extremely intelligent and not getting the kind of education he desires on the reservation. So his teacher suggests that he attend high school in Reardon, a wealthy farming community 20 miles away from the reservation. He excels at Reardon; he becomes a star basketball player and makes friends with the popular kids. This is at the expense of his fellow Spokane Tribe members.
A poignant scene that really epitomizes this is when the Reardon Varsity Basketball team, of which Junior is a member, goes to the reservation to play the Wellpinit High basket ball team:
So we walked through the front and into the loud gym.
Which immediately went silent.
My fellow tribal members saw me and they all stopped cheering, talking, and moving.
I think they stopped breathing.
And, then, as one, they all turned their backs on me.
It was a fricking awesome display of contempt.
I was impressed. So were my teammates.
The story is about how Junior deals with the mixed feelings he has going to a white school, realizing the white people he meets really aren’t so bad, and trying to deal with the contempt of his fellow tribesmen.
This is, by far, my favorite of all of the NBA finalists. It had me laughing out loud, which is very rare for me when I’m reading a novel, and it had me blubbering like a baby at the end, which happens quite often. It is a very touching and funny story. Alexie is truly a talented writer. This was some of the best writing I encountered in a long, long time.
Today’s NaBloShoeMo entry are my husband’s shoes. He offered them to me little project when he saw that I was taking a picture of me in my Keens for the third day in a row. He thought they were interesting and photogenic. Sure. Why not.
Update 11/15/2007: This won the national book award! I’m very pleased. This was the best of contenders in my opinion. And it’s the second year someone from Spokane has won! well, sort of. Egan went to Gonzaga (I’m not sure if he grew up here) and Alexie grew up in Wellpinit, which is 50 miles north of Spokane. But, still…
4 thoughts on “Book Review Saturday: The absolutely true diary of a part-time indian.”
OMG, I’ll have to read that. I met him a couple of times when he did readings in Chicago. Really cool guy. I LOVED Smoke Signals…the book and the movie. Those characters were amazing.
Thanks for the tip on this one!
Frank, you’ll love it! especially if you are familiar with his work. It’s really good!
Cant’wait for fall quarter to finish so that I can start reading my copy of Sherman’s latest. Don’t know if Ben told you but I work with Sherman’s little brother….
You’ll love it! It’s a great book. I think you did mention it to me the last time I saw you..How cool! I bet his brother has an interesting story, too.