The Absolute True Diary… which is a semi-autobiographical book that follows the current adolescence of one Native American child as he strives to break free from the life he was destined to live, with expressive drawings by Ellen Forney that represent the character’s art.
Sherman did a splendid job with this beautifully written novel, portraying the obstacles of growing up in the minority portion of society. The heart-breaking portrayal of poverty and how it affects the lives of children is praiseworthy. The writer also gave us a roughly painted picture of the classic American school environment of bullying, teenage love, weak discrimination, over expensiveness, friendship, etc.
Although, the novel’s depiction of drinking, poverty, bullying, violence, sexuality, profanity, and slurs relating to homosexuality and mental handicap has sparked controversy.
Are you excited to know more about the novel? Let’s take a look at a short summary of the book in the later segment.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian PDF
|The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
|Little, Brown and Company
|Young adult fiction
|September 12th, 2007
The novel is set on a 14-year-old boy Arnold Spirit Jr. living on the Spokane Indian Reservation with his family near Wellpinit, Washington. The boy is an aspiring cartoonist and has a disease called hydrocephalus. The novel is written in first-person narrative, and the story is told in diary style.
Arnold, known as Junior, has a struggling early life as he is often gets picked by people for his weakness. His only best friend Rowdy protects him, but he is very violent in nature for his abusive household. Junior and Rowdy find their bonding in kids’ comic books.
Poverty plays a pivotal role in the novel. We get the first glimpse of the affection of poverty in Junjor’s life when their family dog Oscar gets a heat stroke, and they couldn’t take him to the vet for money and had to shoot the dog to die. On the first day of high school, Junior realizes that he was reading a book used by his mother nearly 30 years ago. Not able to accept the horror of their poverty, he bursts out in rage and throws the book at his geometry teacher Mr. P.
After visiting Junior at his home, Mr. P convinces him to transfer to Reardan High School in Lincoln town. Despite being poor, Juniors’ family supports him and does everything within their power to help Junior stay in school. On the other hand, Rowdy, Juniors’ best friend, becomes angered by Juniors’ transfer, and they have minimal contact with each other over the year.
After joining the new school, Junior’s misery becomes a little less as the white students here are more mature. Junior develops a crush on Penelope, the most popular white girl in school, and makes Gordy’s nerdy friend. His new life helps him better understand the substantial cultural differences between him and his white schoolmates. When he resists an insult from the school’s star athlete Roger by punching him in the face, Roger and his friends show more respect to Junior instead of taking revenge. He understands the difference more practically between his community and the white community. At the same time, he gets closer to Penelope, which causes his popularity to other girls in the school.
At one point, Roger suggests he take part in the school basketball team, and surprisingly enough for Junior, he makes it to the varsity team. Which eventually leads him to face off with the team of his former school, Wellpinit, where his once-best friend is also playing. On the game day, Junior gets bullied by his former community members for having a better life than them. And during the match, he gets knocked out unconscious by Rowdy.
After this, Junior and his family go through a series of tragic losses of family members and their close ones. His grandmother, whom Junior used to look up to, dies in a car accident. Following that, a family friend, Eugene, gets shot in the face by his drunk friend. Soon after, his sister and her husband die in a fire.
After grieving over the departed, Junior plays his second match against Wellpinit High. Junior’s team defeats the Wellpinit boys, and Junior feels triumphant until he realizes the difficulties that rez people face at their home. Plagued by the thought, Junior runs off to the locker room, ashamed. He cries and vomits, disgusted by the guilt of leaving his community members behind in the locker room.
The protagonist is conflicted between his desire to fit in at his new, all-white school and his desire to preserve his Indian heritage, which leads to condemnation from his community. Despite the difficulties, he learns to appreciate how much his family and new acquaintances adore him, and he comes to see himself as both Indian and American.
Realizing that junior is the only ‘nomad’ on the reservation, making him a “traditional” Indian in comparison to the rest of the tribe, in the end, Junior and Rowdy reunite while playing basketball and vow to keep in touch no matter what happens in the future.
This work of fiction has been awarded many literary awards, adapted into films for its phenomenal story and plot. This is a must-read for any fiction lover. So, what are you waiting for? Start reading now.