Here’s another LIS 515 reading list book for you, Internetland! This time around I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and again it’s not the type of book I would have been drawn to on my own. While I enjoy young adult novels I think this book is a little too young for me. Don’t get me wrong, the book was okay, but I think the writing was meant for someone with a much lower reading level than myself (says the University Masters student… not many people have the same reading level as I do).
So the basic plot outline is this: the story follows Junior, a reservation kid, as he decides to change the direction his life is taking by transferring to a different high school, off the rez. On the rez, Junior feels like a traitor for leaving, and everyone treats him as such. In town, he’s called Arnold and he’s treated like something dirty. Racism at it’s finest in this book, folks. Junior/Arnold goes through many trials and tribulations throughout the course of this book and yet somehow manages to portray his sadness, frustrations, and happiness through the cartoons he loves to draw.
Okay, good things about this book:
It’s realistic. As much as I hate to admit that reservation life is as bad as Junior/Arnold makes it out to be it really is in some parts of North America. I live in a small city in central Saskatchewan and there are a few reservations around. Poverty is a major concern. Some of the people living on the reservations would be better off living in a concentration camp. Harsh, but true. When Junior/Arnold says that people think Native Americans are rich because they own casinos but they really aren’t, he’s right.
I like the way the cartoons are incorporated into the text and I feel they really add to the story. They show the reader Junior/Arnold’s sense of humour.
Junior/Arnold’s struggle to figure out who he is and what he should do was articulated really well. The reason I’ve been calling him Junior/Arnold is because he can’t figure out who he want’s to be until the end of the book when he and his best friend make up. Junior/Arnold needs his best friend, Rowdy, to accept him and his leaving the reservation before he can accept it himself.
Things I didn’t like were that Junior/Arnold is constantly putting himself down. Sometimes jokingly, and sometimes seriously. It was hard for me to read him constantly putting himself down as well as the other characters in the book. Junior/Arnold beat down his whole life, metaphorically and literally, and now the only way he can think about himself is in the way other people see him. This was hard for me to read because I used to think in the same for a long, long time.
So overall, I guess this book was okay. It was sometimes tough to read because of the emotions the story makes the reader feel, but the cartoons, humour, and simple writing style make this book pretty enjoyable.