Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian belongs in several categories of 10-10-12: banned books, books with illustrations, and young adult fiction. It’s also made it’s way on to the (yet undisclosed and unfinished) list of best books I’ve read in 2011. The first person narrator’s honesty coupled with his humour make for a totally captivating tone, which quickly and effectively secures the readers’ concern and care for the brave, fragile and fierce protagonist. Such was this readers’ concern that as the story begins a gradual, but escalating, revelation of grief, I found myself a little weepy, but more than that, a little in awe of a story that so quickly and so honestly invites reader sympathy/empathy.
I should comment on the illustrations not just because this book is categorized (for me) in books with illustrations, but because the cartoons that pepper the pages serve Junior/Arnold as an outlet for emotions he doesn’t understand, and allow the reader yet another window into the complicated and fraught emotional life of a teenage boy.
I admit to being a little floored by how much and how quickly I came to care about Junior/Arnold.
It’s scandalous to me that this one appears on the ALA list of most frequently banned at schools in the US – a tragedy of its own kind that some readers will be prevented or hindered from finding their way to this remarkable story, when really, it ought to be put in the hands of every
teenager reader who has ever felt weird, or felt like they didn’t know how to feel (so… all of us).