By: Hannah Shreve
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is a hysterical book that you will speed through, and read again, and again, and probably one more time just to be safe. The narrator was hilarious and will have you cracking up over the littlest things. The book speaks truth about realities for Native Americans that we don’t often hear about, and the struggles that we face behind closed doors. I for one, have never heard about the struggles of life on a reservation. The main character suffered not only from medical issues, but poverty, severe alcoholism in his immediate family, grief, bullying, racism, depression, friends with eating disorders, and friends that are being abused at home. We rarely hear or talk about these issues in our own lives, making it that much more powerful. This book breaks the unspoken rule to never intertwine tragedy and comedy. But they do it so perfectly, in a way that makes you feel sorrow for these characters but helps you laugh through the pain just like they are.
Our story opens on a young Native American boy named Junior struggling to feel accepted by his peers and their neighbors. He is extremely intelligent but that doesn’t mean much in a school that hasn’t gotten new textbooks since their parents were in school. After Junior has a little run in at school with one of the teachers and gets suspended, said teacher (Mr.P) comes to his house to talk to Junior, instead of a lecture, Mr.P tells Junior to get off the reservation as fast as he can. Claiming that anyone who stays here too long will lose hope. He says that the parents lose hope, that the teachers lose hope just by living there (the teachers are mainly white but they all live together because in order to teach at the school they have to live on the reservation), his aggressive friend ironically named Rowdy lost hope, and he says that Junior too will lose hope if he doesn’t leave fast. Junior is shocked, but takes Mr.P’s words to heart. He agrees that he too has to get off the reservation or he’ll end up like his sister, living in the basement obsessed with writing romance novels. He decides that the only way to leave is to go to the high school in town, where all the white kids go. There are a few issues with this plan like the fact that the kids there are known for being really racist, that school is the mortal enemies of the school he currently goes to, and his family can’t move off the rez to be closer to the school, meaning that every day he’s gonna have to find a ride to and back from school, or else he hitchhikes the 20 mile ride. Nevertheless he goes to the school, and from there, he learns a lot of things, and finds more hope than he ever could have imagined. Junior is in for a long ride, and trust me, you’ll want to go with him.