The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

First Lines: I was born with water on the brain.  Ok, so that’s not exactly true.  I was actually born with too much cerebral spinal fluid inside my skull.  But cerebral spinal fluid is just the doctors’ fancy way of saying brain grease.

This was another book I had to read for my YA lit class, and one I had heard about well before I read it.    And you have to admit the title is interesting.

Arnold “Junior” Spirit has lived a fairly typical life on the reservation.  He’s been bullied a little more than the other kids because of how he looks and talks, but he’s still an Indian…and he doesn’t want his life to be contained on the rez.  Junior wants to take his fate in his own hands.  And he will, but will his fate be what he expects or wants it to be?

I think maybe because of all the praise I heard about it I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to.  Everybody raved about how great of a coming-of-age story it was, but I just don’t understand what that is supposed to mean.  Nearly all of YA lit has to do with teenagers learning what it means to grow up.  That’s what makes YA lit so special.

What was hardest for me was getting to feel and understand Junior’s “voice”.  The writing just didn’t flow the way I wanted it to.  It was jolting and juvenile, I guess, which makes sense since it’s supposed to be Junior’s diary.  Still, I just couldn’t sink into it.

And there are some things I found inappropriate in it.  Most of the books I read don’t discuss these topics and I am more than OK with that.  It just felt uncomfortable, especially since the narrator is a guy and I’m a girl.  It just didn’t sit right with me.

But the story did cover some tougher topics that I liked.  I liked how it looked at life on the rez.  I liked how it broke down the differences between a “typical” White male and Junior.  I liked that we got to see Junior’s struggles in a new school and how he handled everything that was thrown his way.

Overall, I thought it wasn’t targeted at me and therefore wasn’t received as well as it could have been.  It covers some tough topics that are great for younger teenagers.  It just wasn’t for me.

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