A Review on The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian- Student Choice


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie immediately became one of my favorite young adult novels, and if you haven’t read the book then you should absolutely make it a part of your summer reading list. The protagonist, Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, is a lovable character who is brutally honest about his feelings. I literally laughed out loud in many scenes and actually cried at a certain point. The novel is a perfect mixture of comedy and tragedy. Despite the constant setbacks in Junior’s life, he remains hopeful and optimistic about his future. Like many teenagers, Junior deals with identity crisis, relationship issues, and he does a lot of self- reflecting. There were major themes presented in the novel such as friendships, racism, death, and family and hope. Against all odds, Junior always rises to the challenges and courageously tackles each trial in his life.

junior is all his glory

(The picture above is how Junior describes himself)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian begins with Junior stating that he was born with health issues and that he was an outcast in his school. Junior lives in Spokane, which is an Indian reservation, or as they called it, the Rez. In the reservation many Indians never venture outside their community. One day Junior’s teacher tells him that he should leave the Rez because he is extremely smart and could go far with his life. Junior takes heed to his teacher’s advice and travels outside the Indian Reservation to attend a high school that offers him opportunities for a better future. Junior gains many enemies, including his best friend, Rowdy, because he leaves the Rez to attend an all-white school.  Junior deals with a lot of hostility from both Indians and Whites for two different reasons. The Indians believes that Junior is a traitor for leaving the Rez and the White students are racist towards him. Eventually Junior ends up playing basketball in his new school and makes new friends. There were unexpected deaths in his family but despite the pain of losing love ones, Junior remains hopeful about his life. JA

3 thoughts on “A Review on The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian- Student Choice

  1. I loved this book, too, JA! I read it last spring when I was working in a classroom in which students read it during a “literature circles” unit. The students absolutely loved it. And many who weren’t able to join the literature circle reading it seemed excited about the prospect of reading it at a later time.
    I agree that it’s both hilarious and heartbreaking and that the balance Alexie achieves is remarkable. And how about those cartoons? I’m really hoping I have the opportunity to teach this text one day!

  2. I loved this novel as well. Alexie is one of my favorite authors, his novel Flight is a great introduction to non-linear literature. I also like how he serves an underrepresented community. I am a strong proponent of representation in literature, and Junior serves as a wonderful gateway to explore Native American issues. JMV

  3. Part-Time Indian is a book of hope amidst terrible disasters–foremost the death of the narrator’s sister. This is the story of a boy overcoming adversity to become the writer of the novel. The living and later the re-telling is the hope fulfilled.
    The courage to write one’s painful truth is rewarded. Sometimes even with a book contract.
    The book’s most obvious generative unit to me would be about bullying. The novel could be the anchor novel for the unit. Perhaps I could write one lesson plan about how Jr. overcomes bullying to survive, or how he shows his fearlessness in fighting adversity.
    So a scene like the first day at Reardan and punching the boy in the face–this could be discussed as overcoming bullying, or series of lessons with junior’s maturing when it comes to handling bullying.
    Perhaps the early “Globe” line used as an example of impotence in the face of bullying. Later the punch as one solution to bullying. It had a potent affect, but ultimately left him alone. No one bothered him, but no one liked him. It was through his friendship with Penelope that his relationship to others changed.

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