The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Sherman Alexie

Arnold Spirit, a 14 year old growing up on the Spokane Tribe Reservation, is poor.  Not only does he struggle with his family's poor resources and alcohol abuse, but he was born with hydrocephaly and still suffers from seizures and other effects of that condition, and he's bullied ruthlessly by his peers.  And yet, he's smart and he's a good basketball player -- and he's a great story teller.  In this book, he tells the story of deciding to leave the reservation behind and attend the local, almost all-white high school in the next town.  Not only does he continue to be bullied at his new school, but he then finds himself shunned by his friends on the reservation who see him as a traitor. Through Arnold's story, readers learn about the details of life on the reservation (which are brutal), what it feels like to be "the only one" in a school or class, and how a young person reconciles his or her ethnic/tribal identity with his/her aspirations. Arnold's friends, both white and Native American, also get to show their own paths and stories and almost all readers will find someone in this book they can relate to, in both good and bad ways.  The book is honest and shocking and unforgettable. 

Reading Level
Heads up - topics in this book that might require further discussion
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