So the ‘Thursday’ challenge was to write about a book that you discovered through another book blog. Great reading experiences preferred. Also, perhaps a little something about the blog that facilitated said discovery. My pick: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
First of all, may I say that the best/worst thing about book blogging is that my To Be Read pile has grown to previously unknown, gigantic, and in-danger-of-flooding-my-entire-house-like proportions. Mostly I’m impressed and pleased by the recommendations I get from this crowd, but I’ve been disappointed a time or two as well. This time, I was really glad I finally gave this 2007 National Book Award winner a try.
The Absolutely True Diary is an instant classic. It’s funny, it’s clever, it’s culturally informative, it’s really horrific and sad (in parts), and most importantly, seriously well-written. The story follows Junior, aka Arnold Spirit, through his freshman year of high school, when he decides to pursue education off the reservation. I don’t think I can give a description that would do the story justice and not give anything away, so there’ll be a canned summary at the end. Suffice it to say, this story is beautiful. A total must-read.
Alexie always gets me. I felt emotionally unraveled while I read this book. I think it’s a combination of identifying with regional identity and the way his characters reach through the pages and grab your heart and just don’t let go. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. I also went to a tiny high school, like Arnold did. We played a Bureau of Indian Affairs school in sports. All of that offers a connection, but even if I was living in a different land and had no idea who the Spokane indigenous people were, I could find a connection, and love this book for its heart.
That’s the beauty of it…because I did find this book through someone in a different land. I first saw it mentioned on the 10 Best Books for YA list compiled by the American Library Association, but the only reason I actually read it was on Steph Bowe’s (of Hey! Teenager of the Year) recommendation. Steph is an Australian aspiring author, and her blog is genius. I faithfully check her updates and always learn something. Add to that that I only heard of Sherman Alexie to begin with on Leila’s blog (of the awesome Bookshelves of Doom), and you’ve got book blogging makes my life amazing.
Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.
And on a fun note, I may get to hear Mr. Alexie speak in early October - he's giving a talk as part of a Seattle Town Hall Event schedule!