My expectations and first reaction
The expectations I had for this book were pretty high because of what I’ve read on the Internet and of what my teacher told me. He said that this book is really funny and easy to understand.
My first reaction was then of course that the book was really funny – it already was funny on page one.
Arnold is a boy who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He has several problems like ‘born with water on the brain’ (he has a big head), he has a poor eyesight, seizures and lips and stutters. This is the reason he is regularly beaten up and calling names like ‘retard’ (for the brain damage) and ‘globe’ (because of his large head). He is very poor and he only has two friends, his dog – Oscar – and Rowdy (a boy who also live on the reservation). When Oscar gets sick his father kills him and now his only friend is Rowdy.
Rowdy has problems on its own. His father abuses him and his mother. He is the only one who wants to protect Arnold (who often is called Junior) from his bullies and physical abuse. On the first high school day Arnold found out that his textbook was used by his mother – so it was approximately fifty-five years old. He knows that alcohol (and because of that almost everyone is poor) is more important to most residents than an education is. Junior decides to transfer from his reservation school to Reardan High, a white school that is more than twenty miles away. All of the ‘white’ kids are rich and have enough money to buy everything they want. Once he arrives, Junior finds that he is the only Indian (besides the school’s mascot) there. He get to know a popular white girl, Penelope, and a very smart boy, Gordy. His best friend on the reservation, Rowdy, stays behind and vows never to speak to Junior—the “traitor”—again. Junior also knows that everyone else on the reservation thinks he is an “apple”: red on the outside but white on the inside. Meanwhile, most of the students at Reardan treat Junior as an outcast as well. Although he is stimulated by the intellectual challenges of Reardan’s advanced curriculum, Junior must fight to improve his social standing both on and off the reservation. He accomplishes this accidentally when he goes out for Reardan’s basketball team. He surprises himself when, as a freshman, he makes the varsity team and eventually even becomes a starting player. Junior’s biggest challenge comes when he must play against his former basketball team from the reservation, whose star player is none other than Junior’s ex–best friend, Rowdy. On the first match Wellpinit wins after Rowdy cheats on Junior. But in the second game Junior is the hero of the day.
The title of the book is the absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian, it’s written by Sherman Alexie. The editor was Brown Little in the USA and Andersen Press in the United Kingdom. The book was published in June 2008 in the United Kingdom and re-printed in April 2009 in the USA. The book consists 288 pages.
Sherman Joseph Alexie (Jr.) was born on 7th October, 1966 at the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. He is a poet, writer and filmmaker. In much of his writing works he uses his experience as an Indian. He is a Native American who grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He was born with hydrocephalus, a disease that contents that you have an abnormally large amount of fluid in your skull. Because of this he perishs a brain surgery, he wasn’t expected to survive this and if he did he would have mental disablities. Despite his chances he survives the surgery with no brain damage. He also had seizures and bedwetting and had to take strong drugs to control them. Unless he has many disablities, he is excelled academically. In his childhood he went to a regional school on the reservation, but due to he was bullied and his intelligence he went to a school outside the reservation, Reardan High School in Reardan. All the students were white and he was the only indian boy. He became one of the best basketball players at the school. He also was a class president and a member of the debate team. He got a scholarship in 1985 for the Gonzaga University in Spokane. He got in a special program with the hopes to become a doctor. Unfortunately he didn’t succeed in his Medicine college, then he tries Law college but that didn’t succeed either. He became a alcohol addict because it didn’t work out on University. He found his way in literature classes and he went to the Washington State University instead of the Gonzaga University. At this University he came in a creative writing course that was taught by Alex Kuo, a poet of Chinese American background. Alex Kuo inspired Sherman Alexie to make writings. On account of his success Sherman Alexie stopped drinking and quited school because he had a few shorts of a degree.
In 2005, Alexie became someone in a non-profit organization that helps to teach filmmaking skills to Native American youth.
Nowadays Alexie is married and has two sons. They live in Seattle.
In the book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, (the book that I chose) you can read about his live because it’s a semi-autobiographical novel.
Sherman Alexie’s main works are:
- 1992: ‘I Would Steal Horses’ and ‘The Business of Fancydancing’
- 1993: ‘Old Shirts and New Skins’, ‘First Indian on the Moon, ‘ The Lone Ranger’ and ‘Tonto Fistfight in Heaven ’
- 1994: ‘Seven Mourning Songs For the Cedar Flute I Have Yet to Learn to Play’
- 1995: ‘Reservation Blues’
- 1996: ‘Water Flowing Home’, ‘The Summer of Black Widows’ and ‘ Indian Killer ’
- 1998: ‘The Man Who Loves Salmon’
- 2000: ‘One Stick Song’ and ‘The Toughest Indian in the World’
- 2003: ‘What You Pawn I Will Redeem’
- 2007: ‘Flight’
- 2008 ‘ The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian ’
- 2009: ‘Face and Hanging Loose Press’
- 2010: ‘War Dances’
- 2012: ‘Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories’
- ‘Because My Father Always Said He Was the Only Indian Who Saw Jimi Hendrix Play ‘The Star−Spangled Banner’ at Woodstock’, ‘Ten Little Indians’ and ‘School Library Journal’
Sherman Alexie also directed a few films:
- Smoke Signals
- The Business of Fancydancing
- The Exiles
There are many characters in ‘The Absolutely True Dairy of a Part-Time Indian’:
- Arnold Spirit – he is the main character in this book. His nickname is Junior. He is a fourteen-year-old boy who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation . He likes to play basketball and to draw cartoons in his spare time. On the reservation, Junior and his family and the other indians are very poor. Due to this he has to hitchhike to the Reardan High School. He is a very smart boy, but he has a lot of disabilities.
- Junior’s Mom (Agnes Adams) – is a Spokane Indian, who had lived on the reservation her entire life. She is a bad liar, likes to read books, and is considered by Junior to be very smart. She likes to drink and is seen as odd by junior.
- Junior’s Dad (Arnold Spirit, Sr.) – is an alcoholic and a good singer. He sometimes disappears for days on drinking binges. He can also play the piano and saxophone.
- Mr. P – is Junior’s geometry teacher at the Spokane Indian Reservation school. He is short and bald.
- Rowdy – is a tall boy and Junior’s best friend. Rowdy’s father abuses him, which explains his bullying behavior. He likes reading comics, like Archie.
- Mary – Junior’s Sister. She likes to write and to read. She moved to Montana with her husband and dies there due to a fire.
- Gordy – is a boy who goes to Reardan High School. He is very smart and becomes Junior’s good friend and sometimes his ‘teacher’.
- Penelope – Arnold’s female friend from Reardan High, has blond hair and Junior thinks that she is very pretty. Her father is very racistic against Indians.
- Eugene – is the best friend of Junior’s father. He also was a worser alcoholic than Junior’s father. Eugene dies after being shot in the face by his good friend Bobby, fighting over the last bottle with alcohol.
- Junior’s Grandma – nicknamed Grandmother Spirit, gives a lot advice to Arnold. She dies after being hit by a drunk driver. She is a woman who loves everybody and who was very clemency.
The title is named ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’. I think the title is named that way because it’s a semi-autobiographical novel. It’s about the life of the author, Sherman Alexie, and the things he went through in his time on the reservation.
The genre of the book is young-adult fiction and modern. It is young-adult fiction because it’s fictional and a explanation for people of my age (young adults). It’s modern because he describes problems that are actually: bullying, switching school, losing friends, gain friends, falling in love and other problems at school.
The place were the book is set is at the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. It’s also set at the Reardan High School in Reardan.
The time all this happens isn’t known. I couldn’t find a clue for the time the story was set.
There are a lot of thems in ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’. I chose only a few of them because that are the main themes in the book.
- Poverty; as you may know, most indians are very poor and the money they earn will be spent for alcohol. Everyone goes to the school on the reservation because it’s cheap.
- Friendship; having one is very important, a good friend who you can tell everything. After Junior went to Reardan his friendship with Rowdy ends, but a lot of new ones starts: Gordy, Penelope and the basketball coach.
- Loss; there are many ways of losses: friendships and family. In this book both are discussed in this book. He lost his grandmother and his sister in a short time. He also lost his friend Rowdy, not because he died but because Rowdy don’t want to be a friend anymore.
- Isolation; because he lives on the reservation that’s the only place he knows. On the reservation are the only people he know. He barely knows what’s outside the reservation. When he goes to Reardan he has to learn all the codes on the ‘high school life’.
The writingstyle is humoristic. There aren’t too much long sentences or passive form.. There were a lot of atmosphere drawings which made the book easy and nice to read (it was also funny).
The book wasn’t a flashback, but you ‘lived’ in the time (chronological). You had a nice structure in the book, but there wasn’t a preface or prologue. The book is about a boy, Junior, and no one further. There wasn’t more than one narrator. The chapter were well divided and in a logical way.
Quote and explanation
he quote which I chose:
Instead, it was Gordy who defende me. He stood up with his textbook and dropped it.
He looked so strong. He looked like a warrior. He was protecting me like Rowdy used to protect me. Of course, Rowdy would have thrown the book at the teacher and then punched her.
Gordy showed a lot of courage in standing up to a teacher like that. And his courage inspired others.
Penelope stood and dropped her textbook.
And then Roger stood and dropped his textbook.
And then the other basketball players did the same.
I think this is one of the best quotes of the book about one of the chief themes of the book: friendship.
Arnold hasn’t had many good lessons on the Reservation School, due to that he has an arrear. His friends who he recently met stand up for him. I think that’s what true friends need to do; standing up for you in hard times. I think it’s special that Gordy, Penelope, Roger and the basketball team stood up for Arnold because he isn’t that long on the Reardan High School and he is new. It’s special that you have friends like that; friends who you don’t need to know thoroughly.
Evaluation and final verdict
<span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height: 115%; font-family:;" ar-sa;"="" yes;="" en-us;="" en-gb;="" minor-bidi;="" roman";="" new="" "times="" minor-latin;="" ms";="" sans="" "comic="" 11pt;="" comic="">The sources that I’ve used for the summary:
The sources that I’ve used for a big part of my book report (to help, not to copy) :