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


For the past week I’ve been trying to figure out what I think about this book.

Did I enjoy it? Definitely.

Has it stuck with me? Yep.

Are those the only things that matter? Maybe.

Did it live up to all the wonderful things I’ve been hearing about it?

Well, there’s the rub, I guess. When expectations are set so high, they get hard to reach.

Don’t get me wrong. This was a really good book. Junior/Arthur is a narrator just asking for a big hug. The illustrations were cool (why should little kids have all the fun in their books?). I got a glimpse into modern American Indian culture, and it made me curious to learn more, which is what the best fiction does.

I have a few quibbles: Dropped plot threads (hydrocephalus??)…cool illustrations, but what did they have to do with the story again?…the litany of “I realized” toward the end of the book that I wished would’ve been a little more subtle.

If only my expectations hadn’t been set so high. Because it’s not often a book makes you laugh while it breaks your heart; offers a boatload of hope while rattling off a series of tragedies.

Ironic that this book, for me, was defined by expectations, because that’s what it’s about. Junior Spirit bounces between two cultures, and each one expects different things from him. He’s even called by a different name depending on whether he’s at home on the Spokane reservation or at the all-white high school he’s decided to attend.

And it made me think how profound expectations can be for a young person how they can shape a kid for good and for bad. And how hard it is to be strong enough to overcome the expectations of others and listen to your own heart.

This book wasn’t perfect. But I guess that’s what bothers me the most, because with a little tweaking here and there, it could’ve been. It could’ve been perfect.

Oh well. Every novel should be so imperfect.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
dorichaconas
Oct. 29th, 2007 06:45 pm (UTC)
Stacy, I love reading your book reviews! You should consider doing this for pay. Seriously. You're good.
stacy_dekeyser
Oct. 29th, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Ms. Writer Blogger Who Coincidentally Has the Same Name as My Mother.

But hey, your opinion counts!! So thanks!
annemariepace
Oct. 29th, 2007 06:52 pm (UTC)
I didn't know that's what I thought until I read what you said, and now I agree. :)

Seriously, I too had very high expectations, given the hype, and while I'd recommend it highly, I was still bothered by something I didn't have time to pin down. Nice review, Stacy.
stacy_dekeyser
Oct. 29th, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Yeah, it took me a while to pin it down, too. There are so many great things about this book, yet in any review it's tempting to point out flaws. As if *I* could write a novel any better?! But that's the hazard of being writers ourselves, I think. We're very critical readers, aren't we?
kmarcus
Oct. 30th, 2007 02:47 am (UTC)
I'm halfway through, I'll add my thoughts when I'm done. I do have a question, though... do you remember me??????????????
stacy_dekeyser
Oct. 30th, 2007 02:50 am (UTC)
Can you hear me thinking about you???
dlgarfinkle
Nov. 12th, 2007 10:29 pm (UTC)
I think I liked it so much because I went in with LOW expectations. I thought he was just getting the big publisher push because he was already an established adult writer. Then when I read the book and found it actually very good no matter who the author was, I was pleasantly surprised.
stacy_dekeyser
Nov. 14th, 2007 12:56 pm (UTC)
It makes a difference sometimes. He nailed the YA voice, that's for sure.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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stacy_dekeyser
Stacy DeKeyser ~~ Author of books for teens
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