October 24, 2016

The Absolute Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolute Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Ellen Fornay (illustrator)
Teen Fiction
2007 Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Finished on May 17, 2016
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good!)

National Book Award for Young People's Literature (2007)
Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production (2009)
American Indian Library Association Award
South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2010)
Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2008)
Florida Teens Read Nominee (2009)
American Indian Youth Literature Award for Best Young Adult Book (2008)
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction (2008)
The Inky Awards Nominee for Silver Inky (2009)
Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2011)
James Cook Book Award Nominee (2009)
The Inky Awards Shortlist for Silver Inky (2009)

Publisher's Blurb:

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 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.

I've always been curious about Sherman Alexie's novels, but until a customer practically thrust this book in my hands, telling me I had to read it, I've never stopped to try any of his works. I'm so glad I listened to my customer! It's an excellent book and one that I will recommend to others, as well. It's a fairly quick read and packed with lots to discuss, so this is one to add to your book club suggestions. Alexie deals with topics such as racism, poverty, alcoholism, grief, loyalty, and family and while it's touching, it's not overly sentimental or saccharine. By the end of the book, I was cheering for Junior.

Final Thoughts:

The Absolute Diary of a Part-Time Indian is on its way to becoming a classic. It was published almost a decade ago and remains very popular with both teens and adults. I know I plan to read it again and am anxious for my granddaughter to give it a try next summer. I'm eager to try another novel by Sherman Alexie. Any suggestions? 


I understand that the hardcover includes a forward by Markus Zusak (author of The Book Thief), as well as interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney. I'm going to have to find a copy of this particular edition so I can read those "extras" and check out the four-color interior art. The paperback edition that I read only had line drawings.


  1. I keep meaning to read this...

    1. JoAnn, it's a very quick read. I'll bet you could fit it in easily in an afternoon. I really do want to read it again sometime soon.

  2. This is the only one of his books I've read but I liked it a lot too.

    1. Kathy, we'll just have to try another one of his books, right?

  3. I have this. I just need to make time to read it!

    1. Kelly, yes you do! Did you see Andi's comment? The book is definitely a winner.

  4. I LOVED THIS BOOK! I have an on-again, off-again relationship with young adult books, but this was just so wonderful and sensitive. My students read one of his personal essays recently and I recommended this book. I hope someone picks it up!

    1. Andi, I think this could be categorized as general fiction, as well as young adult. The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger reads like a YA book, but we've got it in general fiction. In any case, both are excellent books. I hope some of your students pick up Alexie's, too! I should tell Rod to talk about it in his night class. BTW, he's taking an online class on how to teach an online class. I thought of you and how you've been doing this for years! :)

  5. I haven't read any of his books. I heard him on NPR not too long ago and kept thinking I need to read his books - this one sounds like a must!

    1. Ooooh, Iliana, I'd love to hear him on NPR. I need to pop over there and look for the interview. Yes, you really should read this book. It's excellent!

  6. This is one of those books I've been meaning to get to for years. Seems particularly timely right now.

    1. Lisa, you're going to love it! And, yes. Quite timely.


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