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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
About the author
Sherman J. Alexie, Jr., was born in October 1966. He grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA. He was born hydrocephalic, which means with water on the brain. Because of his condition, Alexie underwent a brain operation at the age of 6 months and was not expected to survive. After the surgery Alexie survived, but doctors predicted he would live with severe mental retardation. Growing up he showed no signs of this, however, he suffered severe side effects, such as seizures. Like in the novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, Alexie found his mother’s name written in a textbook assigned to him at the Wellpinit school. He then made a conscious decision to attend high school off the reservation in Reardan, WA, about 20 miles south of Wellpinit, where he knew he would get a better education. At Reardan High he was the only Indian, except for the school mascot. There he excelled academically and became a star player on the basketball team. Interestingly enough, these are all moments that later on inspired him to write his novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian.
Alexie graduated from Reardan High in 1985 and went on to attend Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Two years later, Alexie transferred to Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman.
In college Alexie began having problems with alcohol but after receiving a publishing offer from Hanging Loose Press he gave up drink. He has been sober since he was 23.
Alexie now lives in Seattle, WA, with his wife and two sons.
Arnold, better known as Junior,was born with too much fluid in his brian and is pretty excited to start high school with his best friend Rowdy, they’ve got big plans for their freshman year. But that all changes. On the first day of school when Junior receives a textbook that had belong to his MOM way back when, something in his snaps and he throws the book and breaks his teacher’s nose! He gets suspended but his teacher isn’t mad, and tells Junior that he has to leave the reservation because he is the smartest kid there. So that is exactly what Junior does. He decides to go toRearden, the mostly white high school way far off the rez. And the let him!
The rest of Junior’s “Absolutely True Diary” shares his adventures in transitioning to a completely new and different environment. Throughout the year he learns about life, death, friends, girlfriends, sports, his abilities, and just the ways that life can be stupid and unfair.
Arnold Spirit (aka Junior): After realizing he would amount to little in life in his current situation, Arnold decides to leave his reservation for a rural White high school, which causes him to be considered a “traitor” among many of those living on the “rez.”
Rowdy: Arnold’s best friend on the reservation with a bad temper who seems to hate Arnold’s decision to leave the most, and shows this to Arnold when they face off in a high school basketball game.
Arnold’s father: Although he is an alcoholic, he shows that he truly cares for Arnold by supporting his decision to leave the reservation.
Arnold’s mother: She is intelligent and loves to read, and is another supporter of Arnold’s decision.
Gordy: Arnold’s new best friend at Reardan high school who sparks his interest in reading.
Penelope: Arnold’s “sort-of” girlfriend at Reardan with whom he is completely infatuated, especially after she accepts him despite coming from a poor family.
The importance of family
Death and grievance
God of mine, where have you been in my life
it is so dark out here
I will move from this rez
little hope for me
drowning in this sea.
I won't give up on life, not so easily
If Rowdy and I decide to leave rez life
illuminating light is absent in our lives
Of there is any hope for this situation,
I will leave the reservation
When I drooled they called me fool.
I got my face beat by biullies at school.
And during the night, I cried and tried
to draw my thoughts.
I will leave the rez
New York Times Bestseller
LA Times Book Award Nomination
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winner
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