While reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I was amazed at how the author tackled painful and sensitive issues with humor. I knew that I was going to like this book when it simultaneously broke my heart and made me laugh. Alexie discusses the challenges that Native American's face in a tone that is not intimidating. Rather, it allows the reader to process the information and reflect and question some of the harsh realities that Native American's deal with and why life on the reservation is the way that it is. Although I have learned about the brutal treatment of Native American's in high school and through some college courses, I have never had the opportunity to read about the issues that Native American's are facing today. The book being set in the year 2006 is powerful because it shows the reader that these issues still exist and are important. It does not allow them to rationalize these problems because they "happened a long time ago." Instead, it makes the confront the fact that the treatment of Native American's is still a problem and is something to be aware of.
At the beginning of the book, Junior seemed to have a very black and white view of the world. He always felt like he had to choose sides and that the world of the reservation and the world of his white school could never coincide. I feel like this also reflects how many people believe that two different cultures can not live peacefully or co-exist with one another. One of my favorite quotes in the book is...
“I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,” I said. “By black and white. By Indian and white. But I know that isn’t true. The world is only broken into two tribes: The people who are assholes and the people who are not”.I feel this quote speaks to this issue and really opens up the opportunity to discuss the sensitive issue of racism today.
Although the narrative is filled with tragic events, the things that happen do not come across as overly dramatic or shocking. Instead, it feels natural and normal. Almost like you are in an intimate conversation with a best friend who is sharing their deepest secrets with you. This style hooks the reader into the story and allows it to flow with ease. It makes for an enjoyable, entertaining, and thought-provoking read.
Alexie has received numerous awards for his book, including the National Book Award, and has gotten a ton of praise for his work. If you're looking for a book that will make you think, cry, and laugh all at once then this is the book for you!