About the Book

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Published: 2007
Swoonworthy Scale: 1

Cover Story: Love It
BFF Charm: Aww Hell Yeah
Talky Talk: Unapologetic
Bonus Factors: Native Americans, Sketchbook, Truthiness
Relationship Status: Friends For Life

Cover Story: Love It

Such a simplistic but classy cover with the black background and the toy cowboy and Indian. And most copies have a National Book Award seal loud and proud for you to show off. The only people who are going to give you shit about reading this book are those people who hate on everything, just to be contrary (you haters know who you are… except you’re not reading this, because haters don’t love YA blogs, damn you).

The Deal:

Junior is a Spokane Indian living on the reservation with his impoverished family, including his alcoholic father, his formally-alcoholic mother and his sister who has barely left their parents basement in years. After an incident on first day of high school, Junior makes the unlikely decision to transfer out of the reservation school and begin attending the wealthy, all-white high school. There, Junior must combat racism while dealing with trouble at home, tragedy and the general shit storm life throws at your typical reservation kid. With basketball, drawing and unrivaled perseverance, Junior shows whether it will be possible to beat the odds.

BFF Charm: Aww Hell Yeah

BFF Charm Heck Yes - sparklier and shinier than the original BFF Charm

Junior is awesome. He’s a dork and a superstar. He’s a hard worker. He cares a lot about his family and friends. He’s funny. And he somehow manages to not give up even after life throws shit his way, over and over. The only hard part about being Junior’s friend is that you’d feel like crap, constantly, for complaining about your own life because seriously, that guy has it rough.

Swoonworthy Scale: 1

This book is not about love or kisses or butterflies. Junior gets a girlfriend but it’s less about any mushy feelings and more about him accomplishing a sense of belonging at his new school. This book doesn’t have time for that swoony crap here, there is some serious shit going on!!

Talky Talk: Unapologetic

The writing here is honest (painfully so at times), humorous and completely unapologetic. I find Junior’s narrative completely realistic for an intelligent 14-year-old boy. Despite this, the book’s rough and honest nature have gotten it into trouble with the mealy-mouthed hand-wringers and the too-much-time-on-my-hands rage-mongers of the world. The ‘foul’ language has led to parent complaints and removal of the book from school libraries and high school reading lists. Here for you all, is probably the most ‘offending’ passage from the book:

Yep, that’s right, I admit that I masturbate. I’m proud of it. I’m good at it. I’m ambidextrous. If there were a Professional Masturbation League, I’d get drafted number one and make millions of dollars. And maybe you’re thinking, “Well, you really shouldn’t be talking about masturbation in public.” Well, tough, I’m going to talk about it because EVERYBODY does it. And EVERYBODY likes it. And if God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn’t have given us thumbs. So I thank God for my thumbs.

Haha, wait, that’s funny! And true! I mean, wouldn’t you rather you teen be masturbating than getting pregnant or syphilis or both? Seriously, I’ve never understood the masturbation haters, especially those who don’t practice what they preach, amirite?

Bonus Factor: Native Americans

Native American man in ceremonial regalia

There are not many current portrayals of Native Americans in young adult fiction (unless you count historical ya fiction, which I am not) so it’s great to see that this book has received so much mainstream success and popularity.

Bonus Factor: Sketchbook

Person sketching in a sketchbook on their lap

Junior is a cartoonist so there so we see his drawings throughout the Diary. It’s the kind of addition that makes the story that much richer and that much more appealing to people who are ‘reluctant readers.’

Bonus Factor: Truthiness

Part of what makes this novel powerful is that it’s more or less a memoir. Sherman Alexie basically lived this life. Sure, it’s set in contemporary times, but from what I read, it seems most of the plot is true to Alexie’s life. He did transfer to an all white school (even the names of the schools are the same), was a basketball star and shared the same brain condition as Junior. I can’t find a thorough enough interview to tell me exactly what happened and what was changed or embellished, but enough of the events are true to make the story even more poignant and important than it already was.

Relationship Status: Friends For Life

I had a great time with this book and I see us being good friends for years to come. This is the kind of book you take to a party and introduce to all your YA-shy friends. With its great story, cool cover and fancy awards, it has a ton of cross-over appeal and gateway-YA potential. With it’s positive message and penchant for stirring up trouble, this is a book I would recommend everyone check out.

Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.