This review is to celebrate banned book week with Sheila at Book Journey and everyone else that just says no to allowing other people decide what we can and can't read!
Go check out the rest of the banned book readers too!
Author Sherman Alexie says that on his tombstone it will read:
"He was inappropriate."
Whereas I would etch on his tombstone:
"Brave. Honest. Unafraid."
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian tells the story of Arnold Spirit, a 14 year old boy from "the rez". It tells about a boy who was not afraid to leave the rez in search of a better life.
When asked one piece of advice he would give a young person who wants to break free from the life that's been set out for them and find their own way he said:
"You have to get comfortable with the idea of being lonely. For all of human history, we've always run away from being lonely and now there are even more distractions. But that's the thing--if you're going to make the decision to rebel against your tribe, you're going to get very lonely."
The title reflects this idea nicely. Arnold Spirit felt like it was his job to be an Indian when he was at the white high school although he would be quick to tell you it was a part-time job that didn't pay very well! When he was on the rez, he was made to feel like he wished to be white (because he had left the rez for school and no one else was doing that then).
A great story right? So why is it banned?
This book touches on subjects such as alcoholism, poverty, masturbation, fighting and death.
"I certainly respect any parent's right to determine what their child is reading. They don't get to determine it for a whole school or community...."
Me too. That's what I say, too.
He goes on to say:
"I was the only Democrat in my high school. I went to high school with a bunch of extremely conservative Republican Christians.... and let me tell you-- those conservative Christian kids and I were exactly alike. I was publicly inappropriate, they were privately inappropriate. All this stuff that is controversial is stuff that kids are dealing with on a daily basis."
I feel like in this season of my life I am a "14 Year Old Boy Specialist". I just graduated one from the upheaval that is 14 and I just earned me another one. The age of 14 is a tough one for a boy. At my house, they are hungry all the time, their bodies hurt from growing, they are trying to formulate their own opinions that are not necessarily those of their parents, they are hormonally obnoxious at times and there is this tiny piece of sweet little boy that lurks just below the surface. In short, they are still the rough and tumble preschool boy in a gigantic body that could take an innocent mother out with one misplaced elbow to the head.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie captures all of this perfectly. It is a book that will serve to make any 14 year old boy a whole lot less lonely and questioning.
14 year old boys love to laugh and this book will allow them that. Of course, it will also cause them to reach deep inside for all that compassion they were taught as youngsters that may just be hibernating right now!
I do believe I will give each of my boys a copy of this book for Christmas this year.
And if you're still reading, leave me a comment about a book that you read when you were 14 (or at another time in your life) that changed the way you thought about things. Through a random electronic drawing, one of you will be sent a $20.00 gift certificate from Amazon. Leave your e-mail address in the comment. The drawing will be held and the winner announced on Saturday, October 6.