The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian AudioBook

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieGenre: Young Adult – Contemporary, Coming of AgeTitle & Author: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Release Date: September 12, 2007

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

How I Got the Book: ARC from Publisher


“In his first book for young adults, bestselling author 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 by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, 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 was destined to live.”

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is a 2007 novel for young adults written by Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Ellen Forney. The book won several awards.This was the first young-adult fiction work by Alexie, a stand-up comedian,screenwriter, film producer, and songwriter who has previously written adult novels, short stories, poems, and screenplays. Alexie stated that “I did [write the book] because so many librarians, teachers, and teenagers kept asking me to write one.”

The Absolutely True Diary is a first-person narrative by Native American teenager Arnold Spirit Jr., also known as “Junior”, a 14-year-old budding cartoonist.[2] The book is a bildungsroman, detailing Junior’s life on the Spokane Indian Reservation and his decision, upon encouragement from a reservation high school teacher, to go to an all-white public high school in the off-reservation town of Reardan, Washington. The novel has 65 comic illustrations by Forney, which sometimes act as punchlines while also revealing Junior’s character and furthering the plot.

The novel is controversial for some of its content on issues such as alcohol, poverty, bullying, violence, and sexual references, as well as for the tragic deaths of characters and for the use of profanity and slurs related to homosexuality and mental disability. As a result, some schools have banned the book from school libraries or inclusion in curricula.

Simple Language, Big Issues

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a one-of-a-kind look at life inside (and outside) a Native American reservation. The author, Sherman Alexie, is himself a Native American and has said this book was semi auto-biographical.

I’d say it’s more than “semi,” but knowing his history and background made a huge difference while reading it. This is a story of change and loss and becoming who you’re meant to me.

It’s told from the perspective of high school freshman Junior. The language of the story is very simplistic. It reads like a diary, which it is in a way. And, it’s a little over 250 pages, so a very quick read.

Even though the way it’s written is very easy-to-read, the storyline is full of really big, tough issues like alcoholism and death. I loved how Alexie approached these topics – with honesty and no quick solutions.

I appreciated that he was unafraid to tackle things in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian that one might guess he experienced firsthand. Like facing down a community who doesn’t want you to leave and takes your leaving as a betrayal.

As I read this book, I kept thinking that no one else could have told this story except Junior/Sherman Alexie. No one else could have talked about life in a reservation except someone who’s lived it, and it made me appreciate his journey and what it took to for him to make it.

There is definitely some content in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian that I would encourage parents to consider before letting their teen read it. That being said, I think this book’s rawness will really resonate with teens. I would just be advised before gifting this book unknowingly.

Bonus: Junior draws to express himself and the doodles are included in the book. I read the novel on my Kindle, so the text on some drawings was hard to read but overall it was fine. I loved the addition of the images because it adds another dimension to the mind of a teenaged boy.

I actually read Alexie’s Reservation Blues in a Native America Lit class in college. It’s a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something similar to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.


This is a book I would have loved to have read in high school. It’s eye-opening and raw. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian will expose you to a culture not often highlighted in literature, and to a young boy’s experience that is totally and endearingly relatable.

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 7–10—Exploring Indian identity, both self and tribal, Alexie’s first young adult novel is a semiautobiographical chronicle of Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, a Spokane Indian from Wellpinit, WA. The bright 14-year-old was born with water on the brain, is regularly the target of bullies, and loves to draw. He says, “I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats.” He expects disaster when he transfers from the reservation school to the rich, white school in Reardan, but soon finds himself making friends with both geeky and popular students and starting on the basketball team. Meeting his old classmates on the court, Junior grapples with questions about what constitutes one’s community, identity, and tribe. The daily struggles of reservation life and the tragic deaths of the protagonist’s grandmother, dog, and older sister would be all but unbearable without the humor and resilience of spirit with which Junior faces the world. The many characters, on and off the rez, with whom he has dealings are portrayed with compassion and verve, particularly the adults in his extended family. Forney’s simple pencil cartoons fit perfectly within the story and reflect the burgeoning artist within Junior. Reluctant readers can even skim the pictures and construct their own story based exclusively on Forney’s illustrations. The teen’s determination to both improve himself and overcome poverty, despite the handicaps of birth, circumstances, and race, delivers a positive message in a low-key manner. Alexie’s tale of self-discovery is a first purchase for all libraries.—Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Arnold Spirit, a goofy-looking dork with a decent jumpshot, spends his time lamenting life on the “poor-ass” Spokane Indian reservation, drawing cartoons (which accompany, and often provide more insight than, the narrative), and, along with his aptly named pal Rowdy, laughing those laughs over anything and nothing that affix best friends so intricately together. When a teacher pleads with Arnold to want more, to escape the hopelessness of the rez, Arnold switches to a rich white school and immediately becomes as much an outcast in his own community as he is a curiosity in his new one. He weathers the typical teenage indignations and triumphs like a champ but soon faces far more trying ordeals as his home life begins to crumble and decay amidst the suffocating mire of alcoholism on the reservation. Alexie’s humor and prose are easygoing and well suited to his young audience, and he doesn’t pull many punches as he levels his eye at stereotypes both warranted and inapt. A few of the plotlines fade to gray by the end, but this ultimately affirms the incredible power of best friends to hurt and heal in equal measure. Younger teens looking for the strength to lift themselves out of rough situations would do well to start here. Chipman, Ian –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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