Book Review: YA Fiction for Teen Boys
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Meet Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, the dorky, confused and compassionate protagonist in Sherman Alexie’s semi-autobiographical tale, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian.
After a passionate – although violent – outburst at school, Junior is encouraged by his math teacher to leave the reservation to attend a high school over 20 miles away. Junior struggles with his identity. He feels like he doesn’t belonging anywhere – neither on the reservation which he has abandoned, nor at his new school where he feels like an outcast among the students.
Along his journey, Junior deals with poverty, alcoholism, racism and loss, but he never loses his conviction to find hope nor his sense of humor.
8 Reasons Boys Will Enjoy This Book:
1 – The narrator is realistic and likable. Boys will identify with Junior’s struggles throughout the book. He’s an dorky outcast, but also smart, funny and honest.
2 – Fun format to read. The story is interspersed with Junior’s cartoons and insightful drawings – the way he expressed himself best.
3 – No sugar-coating. Boys will appreciate the honest and very matter-of-fact way the narrator shares his thoughts and explains events in the story. Junior deals with racism, alcoholism, loss and grief.
4 – It’s action-packed. Between violence on the reservation, fights with his friend, close-call basketball games and a crush on his classmate named Penelope, there’s enough action to keep boys turning the pages.
5 – Tackles issues and feelings to which all boys can relate. Junior feels like an outsider at his new school, but meanwhile has also been outcasted in his community because he left the reservation school. He struggles with his identity and feeling like he doesn’t belong anywhere.
6 – Deals with feelings in an emotionally realistic way. Junior cares about his family and friends, even when they do things that make them difficult to love. He’s not afraid to cry when he suffers loss. That may seem like a no-no for boys, but secretly they’ll get it.
7 – Enough differences to keep boys interested. Even though they will identify with Junior, his heritage and struggle as an Native-American boy who leaves his reservation, is fresh and different to many boys. The uniqueness in his story will keep them engaged.
8 – The ending makes you happy without necessarily being a happy ending. I don’t want to give anything away!