Thursday, November 10, 2011

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

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

Definitely get out the Kleenex when you read this book, because it will make you cry. If you don't, then I think you're a more stoic person that I am!

I loved this story. It was a great pleasure to listen to it on audio, narrated by the author himself. He seems like a very interesting person to know and to talk with. All the heart of him, his soul, pain, laughter, confusion, and fire that he had in him when he wrote this story emanates from him as he narrates this novel, and I was along for the ride. I actually didn't want to get out of my car when I got home this afternoon, because I wanted to finish this novel. Fortunately, it was near the end when I got home. Even though I was happy to finish it, I wanted it to go on forever. I could easily listen to further adventures of Arnold Spirit.

On an intellectual level, I was aware of the disheartening conditions that Native Americans (or Indians as Arnold calls his people) face on many reservations in the United States, but hearing it first-hand, it struck home to me how hard that life is. It was hurtful to see that Arnold was raised not to reach for any goals, to believe that as an Indian, his future was a big, black void. That he was less than anything. I screamed, "No. No. No!" But I could understand why Arnold had to change his whole mindset and learn to hope and to believe. I think it brings home how blessed many of us Americans are. Sadly, we forget that not all Americans have even the simplest of things we take for granted, such as food to eat every day, more than one pair of clothes, a decent education (Arnold's Geometry textbook at the reservation school is thirty years old) and the ability to get to school without having to walk twenty miles. Not to mention the very short average life-span of a Spokane Indian due to the ravages of alcohol. I know what it's like to be a 'minority' in this country, and everything that comes with it, but I didn't know what it was like to be an Indian, and that was an excellent learning opportunity for me.

This book is very angsty, and it's also very funny. I felt like I was there with Arnold when he goes through his milestones and horrible tragedies. I cheered him on at his successes, and cried with him when he cried. I loved him. I still do. Arnold's a part of me now. He'll stay in my mind forever, even though I will move onto reading other books, and I'm glad for that.

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