Monday, October 10, 2011

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

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
I decided to read this book because I was substitute teaching in a high school recently and ate lunch with the English teachers and they were discussing whether they had to teach using exerpts from this book or not.  It is apparantly included in their curriculum, but some of the teachers feel uncomfortable teaching it in class because then they feel that means that they are recommending and condoning the book.
One teacher said that they are allowed to use alternate materials sometimes and that is what she wants to do.
So, I wanted to read it and find out what was so controversial.

Now I know. 

I would not want to teach this as a novel in high school classes because of the sexual content.  I would not be comfortable teaching it to a class full of adolescent boys and girls. They would get too silly about it.  However, I would not mind teaching exerpts from it if those exerpts did not include the sexual content.  And I don't mind recommending the book to high school students to read on their own.

I thought the book was realistic and raw and well written. 
It addresses a lot of tough issues especially that of alcoholism in the Native American Indian population.  I think it addresses all of the issues well in an interesting and thoughtful way in a realistic story.

In this story, told with cartoons similar to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid genre, Junior is a 14 year old cartoonist who lives on an indian reservation.  Sensing the dead endness of the rez, he decides to go to the white kids' school in a nearby town.  That leads to problems with his friends on the reservation.
I read this book in less than a day.  I really liked it and I think that teenagers would like it and relate to and understand it too.

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