Friday, November 30, 2007

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

"It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you're poor because you're stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you're stupid and ugly because you're Indian. And because you're Indian you start believing you're destined to be poor. It's an ugly circle and there's nothing you can do about it."

Yes, it's yet another book about a down and out teenager rising above his circumstances and making a whole new life for himself. Or is it? Junior attended a school on a Spokane Indian reservation and hit the roof one day when he opened a "new" textbook and found out that it had been around so long his mother had it when whe was in high school! It was time for a change so he asked his parents to transfer him to an all-white school off of the "rez". Even though they knew they may not have enough money for gas to drive him there and back, they transfered him to Reardon. That's when the real fun started.

One of the things that always happens to our heroes in these books is that they connect with one of two people who befriend our hero and helps him get through the rough times. In this instance, Junior befriended a geeky guy named Gordy, a real departure from his friend from the rez, Rowdy, a bully who was repeatedly beaten up on by his father.

Another thing that frequently happens in this type of book is that our hero returns home to face the people he "deserted" when he went where they didn't dare to go. For Junior, this took place on a basketball court when his school Reardon, met the reservation school team on their home court. Junior walked out on the court with his team, the only non-white member, and the entire gymnasium went completely quiet. I think that would make most people's hearts sink, but our unusual hero responded by laughing! I'll let you read the book to see what happens from this point.

This book won the 2007 National Book Award and joins the ranks of wonderful youth literature including books like Holes and The House of the Scorpion.

My rating for this book: +++++

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