The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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Junior at Reardan getting called racist names by some basketball boys

 

Grade Level: 7th and up

Summary: The book is about a Native American boy named Junior, who lives on a reservation. He gets picked on because of his goofy physical appearance and for his condition of being a hydrocephalic from birth. He has a best friend named Rowdy, who protects him from bullies until, Junior decides to transfer schools. Junior understands that if he stays on the reservation, it will eventually kill him, meaning he will turn out to have the same fate his family had. He realizes the reservation will not give him a better life so, he changes schools to a white school called Reardan. There he receives a better education, makes new friends, becomes popular, and even has a girlfriend named Penelope. Although Junior goes to Reardan, he still lives on the reservation, but no one speaks to him for being a traitor when he left reservation school.

Themes:

  • Figuring out who you are and who you want to become
  • Don’t judge someone who differs from you, whether they come from a different ethnicity, race, or social class because what matters comes from inside
  • Poverty can take everything away except your hope for a better life

 

 

Reflection: Sherman Alexie has created a text that gives young adults hope to change their lives. Junior realizes he is the only one in control of his future and understands he has a chance to become successful. Junior is a character to look up to and admire because he never gives up, he continues to go to Reardan even after he loses his best friend Rowdy, everyone hates him on the reservation, and three people very close to him die. Through all of his hardships, he still pushes himself to keep going, which makes Junior a great role model for young adults. Alexie has also given a glimpse of Native American life on reservations. He has imbedded in the text the major issue of alcoholism among Native Americans, which still exists today. Native American deaths are more likely to be alcohol- related.

 

Possible Student Reaction: After reading this book, a student will be more aware of the world around them for instance, the issue of alcoholism among Native Americans, and the issue of poverty. This text also discusses how people are all different and how we may not be used to those differences, however, we should never let people’s differences become a barrier to get to know them. A student will see Junior as goofy looking and suffering a brain condition but he is nevertheless an amazing character to read about or how his grandmother valued all people even the homeless. In real life the same thing applies we don’t know who a person is until, we get to know them and give them a chance to be more than their physical appearance.

Time’s Interview with Sherman Alexie

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