The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Book review by Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
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Common Sense says

age 14+

Funny, gritty, and powerful novel of growing up on the rez.

Parents say

age 13+

Based on 47 reviews

Kids say

age 13+

Based on 92 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 13+
OVERALL: This book made me cry a couple times. Though it's fairly minimal in descriptions, it's poignant and can hit hard, especially if you know about what struggles Natives face. Some - not all - of the struggles can also resonate for people who simply grew up poor and in households with addiction. It's not overly difficult to read. I managed to finish it in less than a day, so I imagine anyone middle- to high- school age might take a week or so to read it, especially with guided discussions. In my opinion, I think this is important as a supplemental resource for discussion racism, particularly anti-Indigenous American racism. I just personally think this book alone isn't going to establish enough of an understanding about racism; there still needs to be deeper discussions and perhaps more in-depth books on the subject. It's not a bad book by any means and it definitely has value in an educational setting. I think it's best used to supplement teachings/discussions on racism rather than being a standalone tool. Now, onto targeted bits. RACISM: There is one mention of the n-word and the character who uses it gets punched by the narrator aka Junior. Other examples of racism range from very immediate and physical to abstract but just as long lasting. Such incidences include: a dentist that believes Natives only feel half the pain of white people; a white teacher on the reservation who talks about how they were supposed to "kill the Native, save the child" when they started teaching; and somewhat vague allusions as to why alcoholism is rampant in Native populations; the death rate of Natives compared to white people; the way Natives are made to not feel like human beings; etc. If you haven't acknowledge the deeper roots to anti-Native American racism, you might miss some of these messages. This is where guided discussions are very important. SLURS: As mentioned above, the n-word was used once. The r-slur is said about 6 times, but mostly with Junior describing himself. This book was published in 2007 and, having been a high schooler in 2004 to 2008 myself, the r-slur was in everyday usage still. The homophobic f-slur was altogether used about 12 times; I think it was used against the narrator about 4 times and the rest are him talking about it. Again, the book was published in 2007 and, once again, the f-slur was in high usage. SEXUAL CONTENT: There's general talk of masturbation, in a silly and eye-roll worthy fashion. (Junior talks about liking masturbation, how he's ambidextrous, and if there was a league, he'd be part of it. It's honestly silly.) There's talk of metaphorically getting a boner over books. The character who says this ends up clarifying he means you should be happy to read books and that saying "boner" is just funnier. Honestly, not a huge deal. There is another small part where Junior gushes over how hot Penelope, his kinda-sorta girlfriend, is and also a line where he thinks he sees her bra and underwear under her volleyball uniform. Later on, after being reprimanded in different ways by his friends, Junior eventually realizes he's been "shallow" (I feel a different word would've worked better here) while Penelope has been concerned about him. This part was a bit clumsy. The only somewhat gregarious example of the sexual content was Junior getting an erection when his counselor hugged him. I knew the author had a history of sexual harassment when I read it and this part did seem a little off. But the book was copyrighted in 2007 and this kind of "lol boys are just horndogs" was definitely going strong in that year. DEPICTIONS OF ALCOHOL AND MENTAL HEALTH: Like with everything, context matters. Much of the alcoholism is tied to depression, whether vaguely or directly. I don't think anyone was actively drinking "on page." Much of the talk about alcohol was Junior talking about others being drunk and it's never in a positive light. There was 1 mention of Junior (or maybe just his friend, Rowdy) considering drinking, but it was one line and nothing came of it. The discussions of alcohol in this book aren't condemnations, but they are sad and it's definitely not something Junior wants to do, especially by the end of the book. So, no, the book isn't "promoting" alcohol to minors. DEATH, SUICIDE, VIOLENCE: There are a few deaths and a suicide, but they're not described in detail and nothing like that happens "on page." Most of it is about Junior struggling with how the deaths affect him and acknowledging how the depression makes people in his tribe drink more. There's mention of fistfights, some quick descriptions a couple times, but nothing excessive. You'd see worse in a Marvel movie. EATING DISORDERS: Penelope has an eating disorder. It's mentioned once and meant to draw a connection to the different kinds of addictions people develop to deal with pain. Also, it's supposed to show that there are white people in similar pains as Indigenous Americans.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 2+

this is 100% for kids especially the bad wordz.

yes yes for 2 and up 100% recommend not for kids.

This title has:

Great role models

Book Details

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