Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie
Date Finished: Jan 27, 2009 #5
Published: 2007 Pages: 230
Rating: 3.75/5

I can't remember the first time that I read a review for this book, but it had been on my wishlist for quite a while. Everytime I went to the used bookstore, I searched and searched, but I finally broke down and purchased a shiny new copy. I don't know what I expected from this book, but overall it was a really enjoyable read.

Absolutely True Diary is the story of Junior (or Arnold) who is in many ways a normal fourteen year-old kid. Except he is Spokane and lives on a reservation. His family is poor, his father is an alcoholic, his sister a recluse who hides in the basement, and Junior himself was born with hydrocephalus--or as he describes it, his brain is drowning in grease. It seems that all the odds are against Junior. Especially when he decides to go against his family's wishes and travel 25 miles each way to the "white" school outside of the reservation.

This diary, then, is Junior's story of trying to fit into a world where in many ways he is completely different from everyone else. But in the end, Junior is just a regular kid who has a crush on the beautiful Penelope, loves to play basketball, and dreams of one day becoming someone. Junior's writing is funny yet sarcastic and his diary is enhanced by really great cartoons.

While I didn't love this book as much as I had hoped, I find the reading greatly entertaining. If there was a sequel, I'd certainly pick it up. Junior, despite the fact that there are so many things going against him, gives hope that we can look past our skin colors and differences to come together. And if you're wondering--while this is YA fiction and one bookseller tried to tell me it is 7th or 8th grade, I'd recommend this one for older teens. I don't think I'll be passing this one on to my 13 yo brother just yet...

Yes, I finished this book a week ago. I think this is the longest I've gone after finishing a book and posting my thoughts. So, what have I been doing with my time? I've been reading The Woman in White, and while it is slow going, I'm loving the book. In addition, I've been doing non-book type things. My sister is having her first baby in 3 weeks, and I'm making baby Emma a quilt. The pinwheel design is maybe a little ambitious for my second quilt, but I'm loving trying to figure everything out. I've got quilting on the brain and hope to make Scott a new quilt to replace his cat-hair infested fleece Texas Tech blanket I made him a few years ago (the other quilt I made was a queen size Texas A&M-pattern quilt).

In addition to everything else that I'm behind in, I was tagged by Rebecca and Melody for this little meme. My apologies, ladies, for taking SO long to complete it:

6 Things That Make Me Happy

1. A Perfectly Sunny Day (warm makes me even happier!)

2. Hearing a song I love on the radio that I haven't heard in a while (even better when sunny outside)

3. Unexpected hugs and love from hubby

4. Finishing a book that makes me think for days after I've closed the cover

5. A really great cup of coffee (yes, I prefer my own)

6. A freshly made bed--I LOVE a freshly made bed...with no wrinkles

So, what makes YOU happy??


Richard said...

Trish, I'm very happy to see this review! Sherman Alexie wrote the screenplay for this cool indie movie "Smoke Signals" I saw several years ago, but I didn't realize he had so many books to his credit as well. Since I liked his film, I will definitely hunt out one of his novels now that you've helped me remember him. Thanks!

joanna said...

Hi Trish! I'm glad you enjoyed this book - it's been on my wishlist for ages too, thanks to the blogosphere. I often crack and buy new books - otherwise I'd never get to read anything remotely new!

Anonymous said...

A new baby in the family is so exciting!

Laura said...

Your quilt is going to be so special to baby Emma!

It's slightly amusing that it bothers you a little that there was a week gap between the time you finished the book and when you wrote your review. Oh entire week! :) But I do understand it feels bad to feel behind.

This may be a really dumb question, but is Sherman Alexie a Native American? Are his other books about things like living on reservations, trying to fit in with the "white", etc? Is any of it autobiographical? 20 questions! :)

samantha.1020 said...

I've been wanting to read The Woman in White for awhile now so I will be looking forward to your thoughts. I have the Alexie book on my TBR list and will get to it eventually :) Great review!

Jeane said...

It sounds like such an interesting story, I feel like I'm going to be the last person to read this one. Creeping closer to the top of my pile with every positive review... tempting.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Richard - I'm not very familiar with Alexie's works, but I believe Smoke Signals is based on a collection of short stories from Tonto and The Lone Ranger Fistfight in Heaven. I haven't read it, but I hope to soon!

*Joanna - I had seen this around everywhere as well. It's a fun, short read! Hope you like it.

*Bermuda - I'm really excited now that my sister has the date scheduled. I can't wait for the new addition!

*Laura - Don't make fun!! I've answered most of your questions, I think, but if anyone else is reading--it looks like from Wikipedia that his works are semi-autobiographical. :)

*Sam - I'm really enjoying WIW! It's slow going but I'm loving it so far. I hope you can get to it soon!!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Jeane - It was good, but I didn't think it was fantastic. Maybe because I had high expectations, maybe because YA fiction always seems to lack something for me? I do hope you like it--it's a fun read (and very quick).

Debi said...

Well, you make me happy for one thing. :)

The quilt is going to be so precious! Hope you'll share a picture of it when it's finished! (I'm mighty impressed with how well you're matching your corners there, especially since this is just your second quilt!)

I've been going back and forth and back and forth over whether I want to read this one or not. You just sold I REALLY want to read it! Thanks, Trish!

Darlene said...

Hey Trish, not sure this sounds like a book for me but a new baby girl is certainly exciting news! Emma is such a beautiful name. I love the quilting squares you've got going---the pinwheel design is great. It's a lovely pattern for a little girl. I've wanted to try my hand at quilting. One day I may do it too.

Ana S. said...

I'm sorry the book didn't quite live up to your expectations, but I'm glad you enjoyed it still. It's one that's been on my wishlist for ages and ages. I'll get to it eventually, but I have no idea when.

How excited about your new niece! And that's so nice that you're making a baby quilt. You'll have to show us a picture of the finished work once you're done.

I love your 6 things! And I'm so with you on #2. Well, hugs and sunny days and coffee and books that make me think are great too, of course.

Michelle said...

I had no idea you knew how to sew! That is great! I am still working on Emmorys quilt that I started for her before she was even born! I love Emma. I think that is a beautiful name. Are you getting excited?

Melody said...

The book sounds interesting. I don't think I've heard of this author so I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the lovely review, Trish!

A new baby in the family! How exciting! Your quilt is lovely! How I wish I've the skills in making them! You've to share with us a pic of your completed work; I know I'd love to see them. :D

Great happy list too! Thanks again for playing! :)

Bookfool said...

I bought this one new, too. Fortunately, it was one of my top reads for 2008. My son (then 16) felt about like you did -- good, but not great. He disliked the bad language.

Good luck with the quilt!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Debi - You make me happy, too. I almost put my bookie friends as one of the answer, but then felt that was cheesy. Ha! :) The quilt is wearing me out! I'm a bit of a perfectionist (you've already noted the matching corners), so it's taking quite some time. I'll be sure to post pictures when I'm done.

*Dar - The book is fun, but I agree that it isn't for everyone. The actual sewing part of quilting isn't that difficult--if you have a sewing machine you should definitely give it a try!

*Nymeth - I still liked the book a lot, it just didn't quite have that ooomph. I do hope you like it!!

*Michelle - LOL. I know how to sew, but I don't sew often. I've had the sewing machine for a year (Scott gave it to me last Christmas) and I just took it out of the box a few months ago. I can really only sew in a straight line, though--nothing fancy!! I hope you'll post pictures of Emmory's quilt when you're finished. I've definitely been bitten by the quilting bug! And I am excited--she's having her C-section on the 27th, so now that there's a date I can't wait.

*Melody - I don't think that Alexie has written a ton, but I have seen this one around a lot (too lazy to post the links this time...oops!). Sewing doesn't take tremendous skill. It's definitely taking a lot of patience for me, though!

*Bookfool - I think I was hoping this would be a top read. The language didn't bother me a whole lot, but I could do without reading about teenaged horomones. Seems like I've had a lot of that this year! :)


Literary Feline said...

I love the title of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. It sounds like a great book. Thank you for the review, Trish!

Congratulations to your sister. I hope everything goes smoothly when the time comes.

I enjoyed reading your list of things that make you happy. :-)

Have a great Friday!

Kim L said...

I enjoyed this one as well. It wasn't my absolute favorite, but I did find it to be a good read.

Shelley said...

I loved this book--it made me laugh, cry, and somehow fall in love with a crude, hormonal teenage boy. (Okay, now that I've written that it sounds kind of scary, but you know what I mean, right?) I was just rooting for him the whole time and I felt it was very honest.
The quilt looks like it will be cute. I've got to start one soon!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Literary Feline - It is a great title--definitely caught my eye a while ago! I just got off the phone with dad and it sounds like baby Emma might be coming sooner than we thought! I'm definitely on pins and needles right now.

*Kim - That's about how I felt as well--good but not as great as I hoped it would be. Still a fun read, though.

*Shelley - Haha! I totally know what you mean. I found myself cheering for Junior as well and really wanted him to succeed. I'm so glad you liked this one so much!

Thoughts of Joy said...

Hey Trish, I just reread our comments on my blog post of this book. I guess I was right as to how you would respond. :)

Lisa said...

I can't wait to see how your quilt turns out! I love pinwheels. I just started a whirlygig, which is similar, but uh, less matching of points. Are you sewing by hand?

WHY can't anyone else who loves: books, sewing, AND coffee live NEAR ME so we can have get togethers? WHY?

Lisa said...

And yes, I'm a week behind in my reader!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Joy - Ya, you were definitely right. There was just something missing...not sure what it was. And give to my brother? No way! :)

*Lisa - Oh my gosh...I haven't looked at my reader in about two weeks--I've been very very lax about blogging lately. I've been going crazy over this quilt. I'm having problems with my bobbin so the stitches are off and I finally gave up tonight. Maybe next week (which means blankie will be done after baby comes). I do not sew by hand--with machine. You should convince dear hubby Mike to move to Texas. Haha!! :)

Anonymous said...

I could have done without the teenage hormones in this book as well but overall found it interesting to read. Good luck with that quilt! I have no sewing abilities at all.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I really want to read this. I didn't think about it much for awhile, but I read one of Alexie's short stories and loved it, so I'm excited to try something else out by him.

I'm glad you liked it for the most part!


Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Natasha - I felt kind of the same way that you did about this book. Interesting, but some of the material wasn't my cup of tea.

*Lauren - I have a collection of Alexie's short stories that I'd love to get to soon. I liked his style in this one.

Tim King said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your examination of the book. Junior is trying to fit into the world and continually points out where he doesn't fit. I believe that whenever he points out the differences between him and the white children, for example. He is trying to show how his life would have been different if he was white. Junior is continually trying to fit in yet he knows he will never do so.