Today I'm reviewing The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I first read this book a few years ago while I was still in college. I was prompted to re-read it recently following this article where a group of parents from Queens, NY challenged the book on their children's 6th grade summer reading list. One parent, Kelly-Ann McMullan-Preiss, went so far as to call the book, "'50 Shades of Grey' for kids!" Considering The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a New York Times bestseller and won the National Book Foundation award for Young People's Literature, it's not exactly erotic fiction for kids or even in the ball park. I'm guessing that Mrs. McMullan-Preiss has not actually read the book, because if she had then I am almost certain that she would have found it to be heartbreaking and inspiring, as most readers have.
On to the review!Summary from GoodReads:
In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
This book blew me away. The reader is treated to an exceptionally poignant and fascinating journey as they follow along with Junior for one year and are given the opportunity to view his family and friends through his eyes. There is a lot that happens over the course of this year in Junior's life and the subject matter is at times very serious or very comical. When you're viewing things through what is supposed to be a 14 year old's private diary, things are understandably raw and straight forward, especially regarding the narrator's view on sex. This is the reason that Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is one of The ALA's ten most challenged books. While I understand the parents from the article I mentioned above, being concerned about 11-12 year old children reading the book, I think they should get their arguments straight, and not denigrate this book by calling it something it is most certainly not.