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Top Teen Titles #5

#5 Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Little, Brown Young Readers, 2007. ISBN:  9780316013680, 230 pp.

Publisher’s Description: Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.

Quotes from Readers:

  • For such a bleak story, it is filled with incredible hope too.
  • So many layers to love about this book. I love books that can be humorous and serious and succeed at both.
  • I have read Sherman Alexie’s book four or five times. Something I rarely do because I have no time. Never have I moved from hilarious laughter to sobs faster or more often..
  • Poignant and laugh-out-loud funny.

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads, TeensReadToo.

Awards: American Indian Youth Literature Award (2008) Cybils Finalist (Young Adult Fiction, 2007) Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist (Young Adult Literature, 2007) ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2008) National Book Award (Young People’s Literature, 2007) Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Book (Children’s Literature Honor Book, 2008) A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book (2007) Boston Globe–Horn Book Award (Fiction and Poetry, 2008) Michigan Library Association’s Thumbs Up! Award (Honor, 2008) BCCB Blue Ribbon Book (2007) ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (Hard Knock Life, 2010) ALA Outstanding Books for the College Bound (History & Cultures, 2009) Odyssey Award (Recorded Books, Narrated by Sherman Alexie) School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2007) Peter Pan Award (Winner, 2009) Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award (2008) Kansas City Star’s Top 100 Books of the Year The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon Winner Barnes & Noble 2007 Best for Teens National Parenting Publication Gold Winner 2007 Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award Nominee (2011)

Diane’s note: July 17th, 2007 I blogged about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from an advanced reading copy I had received. Without even seeing the finished art work, I was hooked. When I saw the final version, I was convinced that this was one of the most important works for teens that belonged in a mature young adult collection. My favorite passage:

I realized that, sure, I was a Spokane Indian. I belonged to that tribe.
But I also belonged to the tribe of American immigrants.
And to the tribe of basketball players.
And to the tribe of bookworms.
And the tribe of cartoonists.
And the tribe of chronic masturbators.
And the tribe of teenage boys.
And the tribe of small-town kids.
And the tribe of Pacific Northwesterners.
And the tribe of tortilla chips-and-salsa lovers.
And the tribe of poverty.
And the tribe of funeral-goers.
And the tribe of beloved sons.
And the tribe of boys who really missed their best friends.
It was a huge realization.
And that’s when I knew I was going to be okay.
But it also reminded me of the people who were not going to be okay.

Don’t take my word for it. Look at the reviews. I particularly liked this one by Jana Siciliano from TeenReads:

When was the last time a book not only made you a little bit nauseous but excited as well? The National Book Award-winning novel THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie is such a magnanimous stew of reality and hope — and the particular traumatic existence of a reservation teen in contemporary America — that you can’t possibly put it down, no matter how sad, disgusted or freaked out it makes you.

In much the same way that S.E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDERS defined that wrong-side-of-the-tracks world for word-loving ’70s preteen bookgeeks (of which I was one), this novel will challenge and define a new world for today’s readers.”