I recently became a member of The Banned Book Club organised by the wonderful Shruti over at This Is Lit. Every month the members read and review one book that was banned for some reason or the other and this month we all read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. So today I’m going to discuss and review this book 🙂
Official Goodreads Summary:
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 actually liked this book a lot.
To start with, the writing style was very engaging and easy to go with, not to mention that the book was a short and quick read and could probably have been read in a single sitting.
I loved how it talked about something different, the people of the Spokane Indian Reservation- how they live in poverty and many other hardships, facing criticism everywhere they go. Junior, whose real name is Arnold, is a smart and peaceful boy who just wants to lead a normal life and dream to achieve his goals. Unfortunately, dreams are something that are ruthlessly crushed in the Spokane Indian Reservation thanks to their ancestral drinking habits that have led to a cycle of poverty nobody seems to be able to escape from.
This book talks about how Junior still dares to hope and is supported by his teacher and some of the family members to go on and actually work towards what he wants in life. It talks about the racism the people of his community face and how he is abandoned and mocked by people of the white community as well as his own community.
Junior goes through some tough phases as he struggles to understand how to deal with life. We get to read about a wide variety of important topics like abuse, mental health of children, drinking, poverty, racism, society and acceptance and a lot more.
Now I may have made this book sound rather depressing but trust me it’s far away from that! A cartoonist at heart, Junior illustrates his life through art which we get to see in the various fun cartoons etched on the pages of this book. And thanks to Junior’s sense of humor this book doesn’t lack in that department either!
Despite the dark themes that it covers this book ultimately teaches us to never lose hope and keep dreaming on. If we keep going on and working hard, one day we might just get to live our dreams. 🙂
I’m giving The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 4/5 stars
Now you may ask why was this seemingly wonderful book banned? It was banned in many places on the grounds of violence, language and sexual content. Not to mention that the author has been accused of sexually harassing multiple women. I think that is what struck me the worst.
It is awful when you read a great book and realise that the author is actually a terrible person and maybe you shouldn’t have read and liked the book because it means supporting him/her. Sometimes this factor clouds your vision while reading the book but this didn’t happen to me. I’m stating a clear fact that I liked the book but in no way do I support this author.
Can you really separate a creator from their content though? This is something that the club members did discuss quite a bit but I really have no answer to this question, and it’s sad that we readers have to go through this tumultuous process as we struggle to digest the real identities of many authors out there. All I know is that this is a good book. Sherman Alexie is a good author but definitely not a good human being. I support this book, but not the author.