December Goodreads Book Review

'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian'

Cover of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianIn honor of the newly announced winners of the National Book Award and the DC Public Library's Goodreads focus on Young Adult literature this month, we present 2007 National Book Award winner Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Sherman Alexie’s novel shows a year in the life of Arnold Spirit, an American Indian living on a reservation who leaves his high school to attend the all-white school in a nearby town. The novel details Arnold’s difficulties fitting in with his new classmates, most of whom see him as an outsider, as well as the alienation of his peers on the reservation for being a “traitor.”

Through Arnold, Alexie tells a story that is as joyful as it is terribly sad. Arnold’s narrative is not only a coming-of-age story, but one in which he must deal with death on an almost daily basis. Arnold’s story also details the hopelessness of many of the people living on the reservation, some of whom are in his own family.

While the story seems bleak at times, in the end, Arnold’s message is not one of despair, but one of hope.  Arnold shows us that someone can rise up from poverty and hopelessness in order to achieve great things, and break the cycle of poverty and alcoholism that haunts many people living on reservations.  Alexie’s true-to-life language and tone make the novel both believable and credible, and make this a great title for both teenagers and adults alike.

Join us on Goodreads in the DC Public Library group for a spirited discussion of this and many other Young Adult titles this December!