Monday, July 23, 2007

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

Wow. This was quite a story. It's an autobiographical novel. The writer, Sherman Alexie, is best known for his collection of short stories entitled The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven which I haven't read but has been on school reading lists for years. The film Smoke Signals, released in 1998, was based on one of those short stories.

So, now he comes out with a young adult novel and it's fantastic. It details one year in the life of Arnold "Junior" Spirit, a Spokane Indian, who wants to improve himself by leaving the reservation to attend an all-white high school.

This book has funny parts and some extremely sad parts too: Arnold experiences more death in a year than many of us deal with in a lifetime.

This book gives me pause and makes me think about yet another group of Americans who have been treated badly: Native Americans. It's so upsetting to think that they are mocked and treated as second class citizens in some parts of the country. This book is definitely one that I will suggest a lot once it's published in September.

The main character draws a lot and this quotation was one that I found enlightening:

"I draw because words are too unpredictable.
" I draw because words are too limited.
If you speak and write in English, or Spanish, or Chinese, or any other language, then only a certain percentage of human beings will get your meaning.
But when you draw a picture, everybody can understand it.
So I draw because I want to talk to the world. And I want the world to pay attention to me.

Makes me want to draw.