My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sum it up in a sentence (or two): Arnold Spirit Jr, known to his friends and family as Junior, is a lot of things. Native American Indian, yes, but also a best friend, little brother, cartoonist, basketball player, and teenager who wants more than the unfair shakes he's been given. The Absolutely True Diary... is the story of how Junior fights for what he wants, and teaches all of us a lesson, in his own words.
First thoughts: For me, The Absolutely True Diary... lives up to its hype. It was funny and sad and hopeful and realistic. I cared about Junior and the people in his life. I sat on my couch for several hours, forgetting to eat and not caring about TV, to finish this book.
"If you speak and write in English, or Spanish, or Chinese, or any other language, then only a certain percentage of human beings will get your meaning.
"But when you draw a picture, everybody can understand it." - p5
"If you're good at it, and you love it, and it helps you navigate the river of the world, then it can't be wrong." -p95 (both insightful and debatable!)
Takeaway: We are all part of a tribe, or several tribes. That's what keeps us grounded. That's what makes us human.
Teacher thoughts: I can see why so many teachers either want to or are using this book in the classroom - I would have loved reading this in middle or high school just as much as I enjoyed it now. I wouldn't share it with my 7th graders just yet, though. A few of them would be mature enough to handle the more serious themes of alcoholism, racism, and depression in a small group setting, but as a whole class, high school is better equipped to discuss those issues.
Final thoughts: This book was refreshing and powerful; I'm exited to read more of Sherman Alexie's works.
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