Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (and winner!)

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 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 thought he was destined to live.

I was really looking forward to reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. It looked funny, and I had read such great things about it, I was sure it would be fantastic. Also, we don't get enough male POV in YA. The main character, Junior, is a teenage boy who lives with his family on a reservation. But he leaves the reservation everyday for school, to go to Reardon where every student is white and many of them are racist.

I was also looking forward to it because it's been challenged so many times, and it's been banned in more than one of those instances. Why was it banned? Partly because of language. Partly because of violence. But mostly because of sexual content. I read a review on Amazon wherein the reviewer gave the book 1 star and called it filth. Another reviewer basically echoed that and said it should not be read by anyone under 18. Junior admits that he masturbates and drops an f-bomb or two. OMG no wonder it's banned! Those are two things teens never do. Apparently, we're supposed to be 18 before we're allowed to read these words.

I'm very much against banning. You don't want your kid to read it, fine. But don't tell me I can't read it. Don't tell other parents that their kids can't read it. That's not cool. So I will stick up for this book. It shouldn't have been banned. It's almost a crime.

That being said... I wasn't a fan of this book. I liked Junior. His life on "the rez" was interesting. I felt bad for what he went through. And knowing this is semi-autobiographical makes it even more interesting. While I enjoyed the characters and the story, I just didn't care for the writing style. It felt like the author was doing his best to sound crass. And the "You know?" added to the end of a sentence on every other page got old. Okay, so maybe it wasn't that often, but it was there enough to irritate me.

One of the things I loved about this book were the cartoons. Junior is a budding cartoonist, so here were multiple cartoons per chapter. Those were funny and entertaining and caused a few laugh out loud moments. My favorite one was where Junior's friend said he loved books so much it gave him a "metaphorical boner". This book also had a few amazing lines. Lines that almost brought tears to my eyes. My favorite: “If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing.”

While I didn't love the book, I think it's one everyone should read. It really makes you think. And I love books like that.

And now... to announce the winner. Congrats to:

Tara (Wild Irish Rose)!

I'll be sending an email shortly. ;)


Sandy said...

Congratulations Tara!

We Heart YA said...

Aw, we're sorry you didn't like it. We do love it -- but yes, it's definitely got "mature" language. That said, we know people who talk like that (or worse) so it didn't strike as us *trying* to be crass; it just was, because the characters were. Still, that's not to everyone's taste (including ours, oftentimes).

Name: Aine said...

@We Heart YA

I have no issue with "mature" language. I overuse many curse words. Most of my friends do as well. But for some reason it bothered me here.

Midnyte Reader said...

I've been hearing good things about this book too, but I can understand why you didn't care for it. However, yes it is important that we read and buzz about banned books.

Tara @ Shhh... Not While I'm Reading said...

Thanks for the congrats.

I have not received it yet. :-( But thanks for the giveaway!

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