Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Absolutely True Review

When it comes to YA, my preferences are nearly set in stone--girly book with quirk or dystopian fantasy, sometimes sci-fi depending on the hook. I generally don't do boy books, though I will if they are highly recommended, or anything too gritty. (Chaos Walking--though dystopian was nearly too gritty, so was Octavian Nothing.)

However, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is both a boy book and gritty and I loved it. Arnold is absolutely charming, a smart kid with a quirky sense of humor who is actually pretty aware of himself (though there is growing to do--he's only a freshman) and can express it. While most of the story is written, Arnold best expresses himself through comic panels a la Diary of a Wimpy Kid. They're great, some of them are beautiful, and he displays real honesty.

Despite all this happiness, Arnold is growing up on a reservation. Abuse, alcoholism, and hopelessness are rampant. You cheer for Arnold as he strives to hope for more, even if that means turning his back on his heritage and taking the subsequent flack for it. Arnold has to reconcile his status as a "part-time Indian" and like any high schooler (or anyone in general) he messes up, but he learns and grows and tries to do his best.

All in all, I heartily recommend this book. Arnold is adorable and frank and funny. You'll love him.But not everyone agrees. It was banned in Stockton, MO last fall for "adolescent boy sexuality". (It's a euphemism. Google the story; you'll find out.) It didn't bother me, but you might be different.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is one of the 10 books assigned for my YA literature class.

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