All member reviews for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Common Sense Media says

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

Users say

(out of 57 reviews)
age 14+
Review this title!
Parent of a 7 year old Written bye.tai09 October 1, 2009
I just finished reading this novel for my college english course. I'd have to say that when i first picked up the book, I wondered why we were reading it! I mean, pictures?! Really? lol Then after I read it I understood why. Though there are some sexual references, alcohol abuse, ect, Alexie gives us an intimate look into the life of a teenage boy with hopes and dreams who is lead to self-discovery by the people around him throughout the novel. There was a connection I felt with Junior (the protagonist) that influences me to give this novel a two-thumbs-up! I would recomend this novel for teens 16 or over =]
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Teen, 14 years old Written byHeroOfLight94 January 2, 2009

my favorite book of all time next to drums girls and dangerous pie

this book i thought was going to be funny but what i get was an amazingly written tale of racism, homophobia, love, compassion, teen life, life on reservations, and acceptance. There are numerous sexual references but mostly all portrayed humorously. there is also strong language. one f--k and other mild language. there are short fistfights a few sad deaths and strong alchoholic content
Educator and Parent Written byImprovingeducation September 9, 2013

Some educational value does not compensate for a low reading level crass and vulgar book.

I read this book because it was on my son's school required reading list. I felt it was incredibly juvenile for a 10th grade honors English class. The swearing was bothersome but not a deal-killer. Then I got to the masturbation discussion that went on for over a page. Flipping through it I found a variety of sexually related musings. This is like handing my son an R rated movie with sexual detail and saying it's okay because the historical aspect is good. Students could learn the cultural and social aspects without reading the vulgarity.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byfox10145 December 29, 2010

Great comedy

I choose to read this book for our "banned book" project. The masturbation mention seems to be the most controversial topic for this book. You should know masturbation is only mentioned and does not go into detail. My teacher even suggested I choose a different book because of it. But I think this is just Sherman Alexie's way of accurately portraying teenagers these days. I felt like Alexie genuinely understood what being a teen is like. Alcohol, strong language, and a small amount of violence take place in the story aswell. I laughed throughout the whole book. A great message of making new friends and forgiving old friends is a main theme throughout the book. The importance of family and standing up for what you believe in is also an important moral preached throughout the story.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 15 and 17 year old Written byPNW TeacherMom July 3, 2010

TMI!!!

I thought this book was informative, but objectionable. The struggles and sucesses of a modern native american, though sometimes inspiring, are overshadowed by his sexual preoccupation.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educational value
Teen, 13 years old Written byWC August 18, 2010
I had to read this in June-August 2010 for my incoming freshman high school year. I thought it was a good book, but was way inappropriate for kids my age.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Parent of a 13 year old Written byrkskymuffin March 2, 2011
it was not one of my fav books at all i mean it was ok but many other better books
Teen, 17 years old Written byolivia8409384 December 9, 2015

Educational, but includes risque topics

Arnold, the main character, isn't your average teenage boy. Arnold is Indian and is struggling with poverty, bullying, and racism. He grew up on the Spokane Indian reservation where education isn't their forte and eventually ends up leaving the reservation in order to receive a better education. Everyone on the reservation thinks of Arnold as a traitor when he leaves including his best friend Rowdy. But when he leaves the reservation he makes some pretty great friends like Penelope, Gordy, Roger, and even his basketball coach. The themes the book addresses are poverty, bullying, and racism. The author addresses these themes in a humorous yet serious way. I can relate to the struggles of poverty and I think the book portrayed poverty spot on. I really enjoyed the book because of the author’s humorous approach on touchy topics. But what I didn’t like was how descriptive the author went into certain topics, specifically the masturbation topic. I think some parts of the book were unnecessary and would have been better off unsaid. I would recommend this book to a friend because it’s an easy read and addresses heavy topics. I think this book should be censored for certain sexual scenes and racial slurs if kids under the age of 13 are reading because I don’t think this book is appropriate for all ages.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Too much sex
Parent of a 13 year old Written bybookaffair November 27, 2010

Positive messages about life is what you make it!

What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written bydaisy224751 April 16, 2014

great

This book is really interesting and great, I finished in two days!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Educator and Parent of a 7 year old Written byfindog3103 April 11, 2010
Teen, 17 years old Written byCassie.Laguna December 9, 2015

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary Of a Part-Time Indian is about a nerdy fourteen-year old boy, Arnold Spirit (Junior) living on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington State. He was born with water on the brain ( cerebral spinal fluid ) and other disabilities like having seizures, stutter problems, and lisp. He always get bullied and his family and his whole reservation that lives in is in poverty. On his reservation it is known that Reservation Indians do not get opportunities or chances to grow up and be successful. One day Arnold decides that he wants to change that, he wants to take control of his life and future and he enrolls in to a all white school Reardan. After switching schools Arnold's best friend Rowdy turns around and hates Arnold for leaving him. When he first started Reardan he was a outcast, he had gotten bullied and had no friends, he eventually grows from being a outcast to a loved peer and gains new friends and a girlfriend , Penelope , Gordy , and Roger. Many teens can relate to this book, the world is full of poverty and racism and many people have to deal with being bullied and laughed at in there everyday life just because they are a different race or because they are poor and do not fit in. The theme of this book is mixed, it is about poverty, race, friendship, hopes and dreams, etc.. it is about that everyone in the world, no matter how poor, old, young, or what nationality you are, you can take control of your life. if you want to be successful, you will need to work for it. It won't come to you. You can overcome any obstacles in your path by believing in yourself and moving forward towards your goals. I liked the book very much because it talks about common problems in life and it shows readers that overcoming problems is not impossible. It is a very inspiring book that encourages you to get out there and start getting things done and not give up. What i did not like about this book is how Arnold talks about how hormonal he is. It was a bit too much for me. Overall I would recommend this book to a friend. This book is perfectly fine for library shelves it is inspiring and very interesting book that many people can relate too.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Parent of a 1 and 5 year old Written byrustfam November 11, 2010

A Must Discuss book!

This is a powerful book relaying a hopeless and hopeful message, but it's a book that can't be read in solitude. Parents read with your teens and discuss -- there are incredible life lessons that are worth discussing!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written bymoviemadness April 9, 2008

Wonderful...

A funny, inspiring, and brutally honest book about unfairness, racism, friendship, and pulling yourself up by the bootstraps. The characters are believable, and readers will sympathize with Junior's plight. This is a great story to introduce readers to the lives of those living on Native American reservations. Parents should know that there is a frank reference to masturbation and boy has his head sewn up without anasthaesia. There is also so swearing. Altogether, it's a great story for teens 14+!
Teen, 17 years old Written bybriannatv December 9, 2015

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a great book to read and I recommend it to teenagers. Arnold “Junior“ Spirit, had left his old school, with no hope, no chances, or no future, he could've followed his dream. He is also a hydrocephalic with a stutter and a lisp who is picked on endlessly, he's the reservation outcast. At school, he's beaten up and knocked down by just about every kid except his best friend, Rowdy, and even Rowdy knocks him down now and then, and brings him to tears. Arnold changed from the reservation school to Reardan High School, to people, who are not like Arnold, not as smart as him, but they are different in another way, they are white. Arnold gets picked on at Reardan, too, but he fights back and wins a place in the in crowd, and a bulimic girlfriend, Penelope and a spot in the varsity basketball team. The 14 year old Indian Arnold lived in two worlds, one full of white kids who don't make Arnold feel welcome, and one where he feels comfortable but just by himself. This book has its ups and downs and that's why it's a very good one, it seems that you know this person and you can connect with Arnold. It also shows you that friendship is important and the little things in life can make you happy and that's the way you can follow your dreams. As he's known off the reservation, loves basketball and cartooning, but he realizes early on that you've got to get off the reservation if he's going to keep his mind and soul intact. But this novel’s not just a good lesson, it’s funny. Junior is very hormonal, but he’s a teenager, that’s to be expected. I didn’t really like some of the racist, sexist, homophobic language that was used, but it felt authentic to the characters, the name calling I didn’t like. Still, I really enjoyed this book, it taught me more about Native American culture than I ever learned in school. If you haven’t picked up this book, I recommend it, aside from the language, it’s a good story.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written byadamsT December 9, 2015

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Review:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a story of a teen boy; named Arnold Spirit, who is living in poverty with his mother, father, and grandmother. His dream is to have a hopeful future and make his life better than how it is now. Alongside him is his best friend: Rowdy, they’ve been together since they were kids and they make the best out of every situation. Arnold is a frail bodied child, with “Water on the brain” who also has a passion to make cartoons of his own; while Rowdy is a menacing, tough guy who protects Arnold; or as most people call him “Junior.” His parents do the best they can to make their lives meaningful, even with the little money they have. Arnold’s mother is a stay-at-home parent, while his father is an occasional drunk. Whenever he drinks he would sing his old country songs and get lost somewhere and both Arnold and his mother would have to go find him; to bring him back home. Arnold also has a sister, but he calls her “Mary runs away” because she is mostly gone from home or most of the time in their basement away from everyone. Mary soon got her full title when she got married to a unknown guy from Montana and moved their with her new husband, to fulfill her dreams. Arnold’s grandmother is a tolerant woman because no matter what people do to her, or to anybody else she can finds the best in the person and forgive them for whatever they had done. The themes of this story are; poverty, bullying, and racism. The poverty in this story is how Arnold and his family live in the Spokane Reservation, or known as “The Rez”. Arnold experiences poverty by how he gets to school, and how him and his family have to go a couple days without eating and make up for it somehow. When Arnold goes to the white school or Reardan, 22 miles away from his home; he sometimes needs to either walk the way their, or sometimes hitchhike. With the little money they have it mostly has to go to their car because it’s their only form of transportation. Bullying and racism come together in the story because Arnold gets bullied in the Rez because of his brain damage and his lisp, while at Reardan, he gets bullied because he is the only indian boy at the school. Where I can relate to this book is because I have been bullied once due to how I look. It was just looks in general, I am still made fun of because of how I look every now and then but I ignore that and try not to make a scene out of the situation. I also relate to how he feels when losing someone special to you can take a toll on your life and make you really depressed, knowing that someone in your family, or a friend of yours is gone. I liked the book for the multiple emotional scenes and exciting events, like how Arnold got mad due to seeing a really old Algebra book that used to belong to his mother, and he ended up throwing it at his teacher; Mr. P. What I didn’t like about the book, was that the rest of the book had a lot of sad moments and depressing scenarios; such as al the deaths, and passing of his family members and friends. Honestly I would recommend this book to someone who likes a lot of drama and fictional stories. In my opinion I don’t think the book should be censored or taken off library shelves because it is a good book for teens and adults. The censoring would make it seem less appealing, if it’s trying to connect with the reader. If a child is reading this, then I would recommend censoring because I don’t think adults would want their child repeating what they had read in a book.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written bys8455758 December 9, 2015

The book is great and HONEST

This book is about a teenage boy going through life like almost every teenager out there. He goes through all the up and downs about life that leads to self-discovery because of the people he is around throughout the novel. The book has several themes to it: identity & self esteem, poverty, race, hopes, dreams, & plans, and education. I can relate to the story because in the beginning and middle Arnold Spirit didn’t know who he was as a person he just knew he was one thing in one place and another thing in another. I had the same problem because I didn’t know who I was until I met the people I did recently. I liked this book because Sherman discusses real life problems and didn’t cover it up. Some examples would be the sexual urges he would have, how there was some alcohol abuse going on, friendships being ruined, etc., he didn’t hide anything because it’s real life. I also liked how he would tackle these problems with humor so it would be serious but funny at the same time. For me there was nothing that I didn’t like the book was really interesting and educational in my opinion. I would definitely recommend this book to friends because it’s a book that they can relate especially if they have identity issues because of their race, In my opinion, this book shouldn’t be banned because of the content. People should look past it and understand the lesson at the end. Especially for middle and high school students, it shouldn’t be banned to read this book when there is a lesson at the end.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written bykfchristian December 9, 2015

Disgustingly Great

This book was almost the typical “kid being bullied” kind of book. It started off describing all of Arnold, the main characters, many many health defects and how people/kids on the reservation would make fun of him for them. The book took a turn at many points like; when Arnold hit his teacher in the face with a book, when he decided to go to a school outside of the reservation, or when he made friends with some of the most popular kids in school. At first, I didn’t think I would be able to relate to this book, seeing that I was never bullied, I don’t have health defects and I don’t have much of a race issue. But, like the main character, there are many times I’ve felt very alone and I did lost my best friend. There were actually very few things I disliked about this book. Some of the few were the lack of page numbers, and the chronic acknowledgement of the main characters addiction to masturbation -just because I don’t usually share such private details with anyone, but that’s just me. I do think that a lot of details may have been over exaggerated for the sake of the book. The characters and their features seemed exaggerated as well but in a realistic fiction book you’re allowed to get as close to almost-impossible as you possibly can. I do, however, appreciate the authors rawness and realness when it came down to how he wrote. It didn’t sound like he BS’d at all. He was being as real as possible and I think that that’s a quality a lot of writers lack.I would definitely recommend this book to a friend, it’s funny but at the same time it addresses very serious bullying and race issues, so it’s educational but it’s also entertaining. I understand that the book was censored and banned in various libraries/schools across the country, which I don’t agree with. I think the book does have just the right, small, amount of vulgarity and profanity. It’s not overdone at all to the point of censorship, for high school and maybe even middle school students. Although I didn’t find it extremely inappropriate, maybe if I were a 3rd grade teacher, I would feel differently.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Parent of a 8, 10, and 17 year old Written byMrs. Bartels December 6, 2009

INSPIRING PERSEVERENCE!

I love how persistant the main character is in his pursuit of an education. I admire his work ethic and his ability to stick with school despite the many obstacles put in his path: racism, alcoholism, loss, poverty etc... He is amazing on the basketball court, not because he is a natural basketball player, but because he refuses to let anything get in the way of his success. It is his ability to stay focused in the midst of chaos that I find particularly inspiring. He never loses sight of his goals, and that embodies a wholesome vision of success that is endearing.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written byfuzzyowl November 17, 2008

Hilarious and sad

This book is hilarious though slightly crude. It is a well worth your time book. It will especially help when you thought you had a bad day!

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