Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Book Review Club - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

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

It's a bit daunting to review a book that's won the National Book Award. I mean, does it get any better than that? Okay, there is the Pulitzer, or maybe the Nobel Prize, but hey, this is the National Book Award. Wow.

Does Alexie live up to the hipe?

In a word, yes.

This is a character driven piece about a topic - reservation life and the hopelessness it breeds - that, in this generation, is little spoken about. Alexie brings it to life in a deeply emotional way. Death, alcoholism, hopelessness. Love, family, tribal bonds. Heavy topics handled with an honesty that makes the emotional cartharsis at the end of the piece feel very real.

This isn't about fixing the mess the U.S. created when it set up reservations. It isn't about doing away with reservations, or rethinking them. It's about one boy, Junior's, journey to create a new life for himself, a life with hope. It's about his love for his family. His love for his friends. And how he straddles two worlds to become one person. At the same time, his experiences aren't so heart-wrenching you'll be looking into Prosac by the time you're done. It's good, well thought-out, clean writing. 

If you feel like honesty, like a solid read, like letting literature change you, read True Diary. Junior lives up to his potential and beyond.

And for more fun and exciting tales, hop over to Barrie Summy's website for the complete list of The Book Review Club's reviews this month!


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

He is a genius--and I got to hear him speak last spring--he is also a stand-up comedian. I was HOWLING with laughter.

Sarah Laurence said...

I’ve heard such good things about this book, and you remind me how much I want to read it.

Ellen Booraem said...

I loved this book, too, Stacy. (Hi, by the way...long time no hear, fellow 2k8er!) I read it a long time ago, but my recollection is that it was funny as well as heart-wrenching. What a master that man is.

Barrie said...

I read this book aloud with child #3. Fantastic! And it provoked a lot of discussion. Also, I heard Sherman Alexie speak last summer. Not a try eye in the house.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

This book has been on my radar for some time--I really need to pick it up.

I love how you said, [if you feel like] "letting literature change you...", and I love the photo on your banner!

Cassandra said...

Great review!

I've tried to read this book but for one reason or not, I couldn't get into the book. Maybe now I'll try it again.

Stacy Nyikos said...

Try it...you'll like it :-)

Sarah Laurence said...

I bought this book and really was impressed. It was so original, funny and moving. Thanks for the recommendation!