Book Preview: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

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

This is probably the funniest book in my entire collection. I’ve read it upwards of six times, and found that (on the sixth reading) that the audio (read by Alexie) makes the story even funnier, just because of the nuance in phrasing and emphasis.

Sherman Alexie reads from Part-Time Indian and answers questions

October 2011 Comments
I’ve been assigned this novel maybe five times since I started graduate school. The difference in this reading is that I listened to half the novel as read by the author, Sherman Alexie. That, in and of itself was interesting. The disadvantage to the audio book is the inability to see the illustrations, which aren’t integral to understanding the story, I don’t think, but are important to how the reader perceives aspects of the story.

July 2009 Comments
I was looking for a read-aloud book for my Self-Identity unit in the fall, and really, I don’t have to look any farther than The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I read this novel on recommendation from one of my buddies who read it in a class a couple of semesters ago. I didn’t have time to read it then, so I knocked it out yesterday.

The novel is told in first person by a Spokane Indian, Arnold Spirit, Jr. Arnold decides that he is going to go to the white school about 22 miles up the road rather than continue to attend the school on the reservation. He is the only Indian at the school, and is the recipient of some animosity because they don’t know what to expect from him. He has some troubles getting to school, which he cartoons about, his best friend hates him for leaving the reservation, people close to him die, and he joins the basketball team.

I could identify with Junior in that his peers called him an apple–red on the outside, white on the inside–because if an Indian wants to make something of him/herself, he says, then they’re considered white. When I was a kid, my cousins called me oreo, black on the outside white on the inside.

The novel discusses how difficult it is to fit in, especially when what you want is outside the norm.

For Student Use: About my copy

Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little Brown, 2007.


  1. >Interesting that you didn't touch on the catalyst who challenged Arnold/Junior to be more, use his mind, and become better. A teacher, of course! Mr. P accepts responsibility for his role in helping the Indian population stagnate, but at the same time he wants to encourage Junior to break the cast.


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