Sunday, October 25, 2009

"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian" by Sherman Alexie

I saw Sherman Alexie speak about this book at the 2007 LA Times Festival of Books. His talk was funny, outrageous, and sobering. But it wasn't until I was talking with Emma from the San Diego Library Foundation , and she mentioned Alexie having appeared at this year's San Diego Children's Book Festival, that I remembered this book.

With its combination of pathos, humor, and self-deprecation, it is classic Alexie. It's the story of a young Spokane Indian who wants to get off the reservation, and seems to be largely based on his life. The protagonist is a cartoonist, and mixed in with the text are humors comics that comment on the story. Sorta like Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

The book is marketed as for young adults, but it exists in that cross-over section. The part that hit me, as a thirty-year-old, was when the protagonist finds his mother's name written in his geometry book. Not only does he realize that his tribe teaches with thirty-year-0ld books, but that if he doesn't get off the reservation now, he will be there the rest of his life, and so will his kids.

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