The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
By Sherman Alexie
Illustrations by Ellen Forney
Grade Levels: 6 and above
Sherman Alexie is the celebrated author of The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, a collection of short stories drawing from his heritage as an American Indian. His young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, channels these experiences into a full-length novel exploring his experiences as an American Indian growing up on a reservation. The story follows the story of Arnold Spirit Jr., a 14-year-old American Indian who decides to leave the reservation and go to an all-white public highschool. The story chronicles Junior’s development both as a cartoonist and as a young man. The illustrator, Ellen Forney, skillfully represents this by providing drawings done in Junior’s style, allowing us to see him change as an artist and a character as the story progresses. A poignant exploration of difference and belonging wrapped around a captivating narrative, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a rare example of a novel that appeals to young adults but can be enjoyed just as much by readers who left school behind many years ago. We’d recommend it to anyone looking for a good read and especially to parents and children looking for a book to read and discuss together.