Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Solid gold.

This is another novel that has never disappointed anyone to whom I've recommended it. When a student is reading Sherman Alexie's novel, she is hiding it in her lap during class, he is counting the minutes to Quiet Reading time, she is tired from reading it under the covers.

The story of Arnold Spirit, better known as Junior, captivates the reader with its humor, and then sucker punches with tragedy. Even though Junior is a Native American, lives on a reservation, and was born with water on the brain, he is instantly relatable. Junior has so many challenges in his life, from crushing poverty to racism to bullies, but he perseveres in a beautifully human way.

One thing that I truly love about this novel is that it doesn't follow the traditional story structure of having one sad event that the protagonist overcomes. Junior faces a series of tragedies, each seemingly worse than the last. The reader hopes that things will work out for Junior, although it is clear that his life will never be a fairy tale. The cautious optimism that The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian creates is a gift. Read it now!

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