Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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An Indian boy coming into adulthood, literally weaving and dodging and rolling with the pun

 

What do you do when, every day, you leave your home reservation—“located approximately one million miles north of Important and two billion miles west of Happy”—to attend a high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot and you have to pretend not to be poor and your best friend becomes your worst enemy because you deserted him and you know your parents are sacrificing for you and doing the best they can but sometimes you have to hitchhike home? And, oh, yeah, you have a big head, huge hands and feet, you’re nearsighted in one eye and far-sighted in the other and you stutter and lisp. What do you do? You draw cartoons about your life and play basketball, that’s what. Called “Junior” by his friends and relatives on the Spokane reservation and “Arnold” by the white people in the other part of the world he inhabits part-time, he’s an Indian boy coming into adulthood, literally weaving and dodging and rolling with the punches. But Absolutely True Diary is not just a litany of pain; it’s also about strength and resilience and endurance and culture and community. And laughter, lots of it, at the joys, at the sorrows, even at the tragedies. And always and ever, it’s about the land. As Junior and Rowdy climb almost to the top of the biggest tree on the reservation, they see “from one end of the reservation to the other. We could see our entire world. And our entire world, at that moment, was green and golden and perfect.”

 

Author: Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene)

Illustrations: Black & white illustrations by Ellen Forney

Binding Availability: Paperback or Hardcover

Published: 2007

Tribes/Ethnic Groups: Spokane/Coeur d’Alene