The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

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.


Medicine River by Thomas King

Well, Internetland, I just finished reading a novel called Medicine River by Thomas King. It’s a Canadian novel set in Alberta in a small town called Medicine River. I know, the title totally didn’t give that away at all. Medicine River is just outside of Red Deer, Alberta and it has a wild life centre. I just Googled it.

Anyway, the story is about a man named Will. He’s a half-breed (don’t get all out of shape, that’s the technical term for half Native half Caucasian) His mother was a Native woman on a reserve and his father was a rodeo man from Calgary. The book is a series of Will’s life and flash backs from his childhood and his early adult life.

So basically Will goes back to Medicine River for his mother’s funeral (He moved to Toronto to study photography) and when his business in Toronto goes bad he moves to Medicine River.

Will has a friend named Harlen and Harlen pisses me off so much. He’s the type of man who just does things and he meddles in other peoples’ business and he just irritates me. I think he makes me so mad because I had a room-mate like him once. My room-mate always had these crazy ideas they she would halfway get off the ground and then just forget about and abandon. She would always be trying to help other people but usually would end up being a nuance to them. Will pisses me off too. I think because I see a lot of myself in him. Will settles a lot. He goes a long with things and never really takes his own life into his own hands. I was like that. I’m not anymore, at least I’m trying not to be like that anymore.

Anyway, all the reviews for the book that I’ve read have said it’s so amazing but quite frankly I found it boring. Maybe I  missed the deeper meaning of the story or something but I just don’t see how it’s so amazing. Sure, Will is a great role-model. He’s successful, owns his own business, blah blah blah, and it’s good for young Native students, especially boys, to see that in a book.

Anyway, Internetland, I have to go now. My group is getting ready to do an assignment on this book. We need to create a Reader’s Theatre. If you don’t know what that is you have some homework to do! I’m not to worried about the assignment. It couldn’t be more easy for us. We’re Arts Education and we rock the Reader’s Theatre.