Sherman Alexie has a way of writing that makes me feel like I am right there with the characters. In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Junior’s trials and tribulations are explored in a humorous, but brutally painfully way. Life on the reservation is far from simple, alcohol flows too easily and money is too hard to find. Hope seems in short supply for many of the characters, but Junior is given the opportunity to attend a better high school in a nearby town, off the reservation, where he is the only Indian except for the mascot. I love how Alexie describes the scenes using every sense, even urging the reader to smell the shame and pain on the breath of the characters. Junior’s cartoons add to the imagery reminding the reader that while the rez is home and a safety of sorts, hope leads only to a fragile unknown. Life on the reservation has made Junior tough, he was born with health issues and he is a fighter, so while his new school provides him with many unknowns, he can’t really be broken. In many ways, the hardest part is straddling the line between his vanishing past and his supposed bright future. Alexie openly discusses racism; some of it is blatant and some subtle, but racism runs throughout the story. For Junior poverty and alcoholism are such a part of his life that he constantly worries about his future, his family and his friends. At times, tragedy overcomes Junior’s hope, but even tragedy can’t stop him. On the reservation so much hope has been lost, that people have almost no expectations for the future, but off the reservation, expectations for Junior are much higher and he wants to live up to them and he does. Every time I read this book, I think of my grandpa and what it must have been like to leave the reservation and be set adrift between two cultures, two worlds, never to really fit in completely in either one. I wonder if he would have found comfort in these words and I hope that one day my son finds comfort in them, as well.

Published by Sarah BooksBeforeBandaids