The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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Short review today, folks.

A while ago, I mentioned going to a book tasting with my friend J, where we both picked up Giant Days.  I also managed to pick up another book that had been on my TBR list for quite a while. With even more encouragement from J (you should read that, it’s really good) I finally picked up a copy of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

the-absolutey-true-diary

I’d be surprised if you’re North American and haven’t already heard of this book. I mean, it came out a decade ago. But it has also been at the center of some controversy. It’s been censored – removed from libraries, school reading lists, and rebuked for it’s depiction of violence (read: hardship) and sex (read: masturbation).

Honestly, the protagonist is a 14-year-old boy, and people need to readjust their expectations, in my opinion.

I really enjoyed this book.

All too often in books depicting Native American protagonists, they are othered quite neatly. But Junior’s voice is clear and funny, and everything I would expect to hear from a boy his age. His natural musings and good humour really put his life experiences into perspective.

Struggling with the quality of his education, and the alcoholism and deaths prevalent in his community, Junior leads a life that his friends off the reservation would struggle to understand. Still, this glimpse into his life and community was compelling – his voice was believable and I really enjoyed the little drawings peppered throughout the book.

Junior’s voice while straightforward was also very insightful. There’s a moment two chapters into this book that I knew I would like it.

“Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor.”

Truth.

Junior loves his community, but he also feels trapped in it. He decides to attend the all-white school off of the reservation, and with that decision comes a whole lot of difficulties. Still, he handles it with all the aplomb that a 14-year-old could be expected to. He’s a smart and sensitive kid and you root for him the entire book through. You wish for more for him, for his family, and for his community.

The depictions of side characters were excellent in this book. Junior’s family and friends were just as interesting as he was, for all that we didn’t know as much about them. His relationship with Rowdy the whole book through was especially touching and telling.

If you’re looking for a quick read, I would recommend this one. I don’t generally read contemporary literature that isn’t genre fiction, but this one is a gem.

It will give you things to think about – maybe things you hadn’t ever considered.

Have you already read this book? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below!

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