Tag: Sherman Alexie

Sep 25

Banned Books Week & Diversiverse: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Banned Books, Young Adult Fiction 27

Hey There, Bookworms!

It’s still Banned Books Week, and I’m still celebrating Diversiverse. Today’s book has popped up on the list of Top Ten Banned Books over and over again in recent years, so OF COURSE I had to find out what all the fuss was about. I picked up a copy of Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and started reading.
BBWDiversiverse

Frankly, I’m having a heck of a time figuring out why everyone is so worked up about this book. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is the semi-autobiographical tale of Sherman Alexie’s first year in an all white high school. The main character, Arnold “Junior” Spirit, is a brilliant kid living on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Confronted with the daily frustrations of life and the limited opportunities on the reservation (and, well, an incident involving the violent flinging of a textbook) Arnold decides to leave the high school on the reservation to attend the school of a nearby farming community. I’m going to list some objections from book banners and challengers, then discuss why I think they’re wrong. Cool?

theabsolutelytruediaryofaparttimeindianObjection the First: The language in the book is rather colorful. Then again, I’ve yet to meet a 14 year old who is scandalized by profanity.

Objection the Second: Arnold has a penchant for, uh, self pleasure. But dude. He’s a 14 year old boy. That’s a pretty universal 14 year old boy experience. Virtually all the sexual encounters in this book (aside from a few fairly chaste kisses) are done solo. No underage sex. No teen pregnancy. No STDs.

Objection the Third: This book deals with racism, head on. Pretending racism doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. Getting inside the head of someone different than you might make a difference though.

Objection the Fourth: There’s also quite a lot of discussion of the rampant alcoholism that plagues the reservation. I don’t think anybody is really thrilled to think their kids might take up drinking at a tender age, but this book makes one of the strongest anti-alcohol cases I’ve ever read. If anything, I think it would prevent kids from touching the stuff.

In short, SERIOUSLY, YOU GUYS?! Don’t ban this book. It’s a fantastic coming-of-age story. It is tragic and heartbreaking and wonderful and difficult- just like being a teenager. It’s also got some killer illustrations which offers a little extra something to the reluctant reader crowd. Everybody likes a cartoon, I tell you! Although, maybe y’all should keep banning it. Nothing will get teenagers to read something faster than hearing adults tell them they can’t! Here’s a bio of the mastermind behind the controversy:

Sherman J. Alexie, Jr., was born in October 1966. A Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, he grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA, about 50 miles northwest of Spokane, WA. Alexie has published 18 books to date. Alexie is an award-winning and prolific author and occasional comedian. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a modern Native American. Sherman’s best known works include The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Smoke Signals, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

 Let’s chat, Bookworms. You remember being a teenager, surely? Was there any activity made more appealing to you by the fact that your parents or other authority figures didn’t want you to do it? I’m curious, really, because I was really rather dull and my parents didn’t make any attempts to restrict my reading material…

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Dec 12

Flight by Sherman Alexie

Coming of Age, Time Travel, Young Adult Fiction 16

Howdy Bookworms,

Remember how I went on a crazy Cyber Monday shopping spree snapping up ALL THE DIGITAL BOOKS?! One of those books was Flight by Sherman Alexie, and holy cats, was it a doozie!

flightAlright, so there’s this kid who calls himself “Zits,” right? Poor guy is 14, in foster care, and suffers from a severe case of acne. He is half Native American, his father is an absent alcoholic, and his mother died of breast cancer when he was 6. Zits has been stuck in the system and wreaking havoc on the Seattle area for years. When we meet Zits, he’s in a foster home of the “we want the monthly stipend” variety. Instead of playing nice in his new surroundings, Zits goes out and gets himself arrested.

The way he sees it, jail is preferable to yet another crappy foster home. On this particular journey to the slammer, Zits meets up with another juvenile delinquent calling himself “Justice.” Justice seems like he’s got his life in order (at least from Zits’ perspective) and they team up. Only Justice? That guy’s got some ISSUES. He manages to convince Zits that they need to start a revolution… A revolution that will be kicked off by Zits shooting up a bank.

Zits is in the midst of his murderous rampage. He perceives that he’s been shot in the head, but instead of dying, he is taken on a Quantum Leap style journey through time and space. (I KNOW!) It sounds crazy, and it is pretty crazy, but it was SO GOOD! You know I’m a sucker for time travel, and jumping into someone else’s body? Well, that just turns things up to eleven! Seriously y’all. Never once has (what I assume to be) Proactiv made me cry. Until today. Wowza.

If you could jump into someone else’s consciousness, whose brain would you want to get inside? You’ve got all of history to pick from, Bookworms. Let’s hear it!

*If you buy a copy of Flight from a link on this site, I make a few cents. Let’s face it. Cents/Sense is something I could use more of. ALSO, did you enter my giveaway yesterday? Take a little scroll down. Free book!*

 

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