The Story Behind The Absolute True Diary Of A Part-time Indian

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The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a novel written by Sherman Alexie. It was first published September 12, 2007, before it was rereleased in 2017 for its 10th anniversary. Over the years, the book has won several awards, such as three “year`s best” awards for Diary and a biannual award for books written about Native Americans.

Sherman Alexie is a 52 years old author. He was born and raised in Wellpinit, Washington. This is actually where the story in the book takes place as well. Because he grew up in a reservation, he can write better about what it`s like to live in one. The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a semi-autobiograph. Just like the main character Arnold Spirit Jr., Alexie was born with “water on the brain”. He had to have brain surgery just six months old. His family were told that even if he survived the surgery, he would most likely still suffer from mental disabilities or death later on. Luckily, this was not the case, and Alexie lived on with just a few side effects.

Despite the books huge success, it has also received criticism for its use of drugs, alcohol, violence and slurs related to mental disability and homosexuality. Some schools have actually banned the book from their libraries because of this. It has also often appeared on the annual list of frequently challenged books.

I personally really like this book, because it is nice to read about other cultures and how people live in different parts of the world. It was kind of sad when Arnold had such a hard time, but it is still a very funny and entertaining book. I like that he decides to get a grip of his life, and wants to make something out of himself. He makes changes even though it´s hard for him to do. That was pretty inspiring.

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The book is about Arnold Spirit Jr, a 14 years old indian boy, living on the Spokane Indian Reservation along with his family. Due to his rare condition, hydrocephalus (water on the brain), he is very small for his age, and suffers from seizures, stuttering, a lisp and an unusually large head. Therefore, he is often picked on and beat up by the other people in the reservation. Thankfully he has his best friend Rowdy, who stands up for him whenever he is bothered by someone. Rowdy is extremely violent and has serious anger issues. Even the adults are afraid of him. Sometimes he can get really angry with Arnold, and beat him up as well. Despite all that, they are still best friends, and they both know it.

Arnold’s family is very poor, and have limited access to resources. So when Arnold suddenly decides he wants to transfer to Reagan High School, a far wealthier and better school than the one on the reservation, there is of course some complications. First of all, the new school is 22 miles away from his home. Though the transportation is unreliable, his family supports him as much as they can. His (alcoholic) dad drives him a couple of times, but mostly he has to walk. One day, a family friend named Eugene (also an alcoholic), dropped Arnold off at school on his motorcycle. The kids at school seems impressed by this, and the boy Arnold earlier got in trouble with, and punched, was actually being nice to him.

Being the only indian at Reagan, except the school mascot, Arnold has some issues with fitting in. The rules are completely different than back at the reservation. For example, if someone insulted either you or you family, you had to fight them. No exeption. But at Reardan, Arnold got in a fight with the star athlete of the school, Roger, and ended up punching him in the face. Instead of fighting him back, Roger and his friends showed him respect.

On his first day there, he meets a girl named Penelope, and quickly gets a special eye for her. She turns out to be the school`s most popular girl. Sending him mixed signals all the time, either ignoring him or flirting and being nice, she confuses Arnold. He also gets a new study friend, Gordy.

Through the year, Arnold realizes that the white people he goes to school with, don´t have such perfect lives after all. His family has much stronger ties than most of his white classmates. Although, these bonds are put on a test when his grandma, Eugene, his sister and her husband dies. It is hard for him to deal with all these deaths, and over the year he and his family suffers from even more tragedies. But this also helps him realize how important it is for him to hold on to his indian heritage.

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