Alexie, Sherman. (2007). The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Hachette Book Group.
Subgenre: Realistic Fiction; Native Americans
Textbook Chapter : 6
Possible Curriculum Connections: Unit on Native American stereotypes; life on a Native American Reservation
Junior is a freshman in high school who is living on an Indian Reservation, or rez, with his family. He lives with his mother, father, grandmother, and older sister, but always hangs out with his best friend, Rowdy. Junior is kind of an outcast, and was born with "water on his brain" and a variety of other ailments which have made him stand out in a crowd. He is very smart, and an interaction with one of his teachers made him realize that he had to have more in his life. He decided to move to a middle class white school outside of town to give himself hope. At first, he was ridiculed, and then ignored, but after punching a popular kid in the nose for making fun of him, he gained respect from the white people at the school. He gets a girlfriend named Penelope, and even becomes a star on the basketball team. However, he feels like he is only living his life halfway, as he is torn between his Indian side and his newly found "white" side. By the end of the book, he suffers enormous loss in his life, but realizes that he can stay true to his Indian roots as well as want better for himself. He overcomes the odds and is successful.
Personal Reaction/ Why Teens Would Want to Read this Book:
I loved this novel! I had heard several different people in our class mention it, so I decided it was worth a try! What a refreshing viewpoint! With humor, the author was able to address some stereotypes of Native Americans, and some even proved to be true in this story, like Native Americans enjoying drinking and gambling. I loved Junior's character, and truly felt his struggle between his native side and the white side that he entered in. I think that teens would want to read this book because it is an entertaining story with humor, love, some crude language, and clever illustrations! Teens would be able to relate to Junior's struggle with finding himself, although they may not have the exact same experiences. Overall, I thought this book was great, and I would highly recommend it to any young adult!