Arnold Spirit Jr.’s Diary | Teen Ink

Arnold Spirit Jr.’s Diary

September 6, 2023
By Anonymous

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a young adult novel written by Sherman Alexie. It tells the story of Arnold Spirit Jr., a 14-year-old Native American boy who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. Arnold, who is also known as Junior, is a budding cartoonist and a keen observer of the world around him. He dreams of becoming something more than what his circumstances would suggest, and this is where his journey of self-discovery begins.
The book opens with Junior's first-person narration in which he talks about his life on the reservation, which is filled with poverty, alcoholism, and despair. Junior has always been different from the other kids on the reservation. He was born with hydrocephalus, a condition that makes his head larger than normal. And as a result, he has always been physically weaker than his peers. However, his parents have always encouraged him to be ambitious and to pursue his dreams.
One day, after getting beaten up by some kids from his school, Junior decides that he can no longer tolerate the status quo. He realizes that if he wants to succeed in life, he has to break free from the reservation and attend a school outside of it. He decides to enroll in Reardan High School, a predominantly white school that is 22 miles away from his home. This decision makes him an outcast among his own people, who see him as a traitor for leaving the reservation.
Despite the initial challenges he faces at Reardan, Junior quickly adapts to his new environment. He befriends a fellow student named Gordy, who introduces him to the world of books and helps him improve his grades. Junior also becomes a star player on the school's basketball team, which brings him newfound respect and popularity.
Junior's journey is not without its setbacks. He loses his grandmother, who was one of the few people who truly understood him and supported his dreams. He also struggles with his identity as a Native American who is attending a predominantly white school. However, through it all, he remains resilient and determined to succeed.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a powerful coming-of-age story that deals with themes of identity, race, and culture. It explores the challenges faced by Native American youth who are torn between their cultural heritage and the opportunities that exist outside of their communities. Through Junior's journey, the book also examines the impact of poverty, alcoholism, and other social issues that plague many Native American reservations.
One of the strengths of the book is its use of humor. Despite dealing with serious subject matters, Alexie manages to infuse the story with humor and wit. Junior's irreverent voice and quirky observations make the book both entertaining and insightful.
Another strength of the book is its portrayal of complex characters. Junior's parents, for example, are not stereotypical figures of Native American poverty. They are flawed and complicated individuals who are trying their best to support their son. Similarly, Junior's white classmates are not one-dimensional villains. They are shown to have their own struggles and insecurities.
One of the most powerful scenes in the book is when Junior visits the home of his friend Penelope, who is also his crush. Penelope is from a wealthy white family, and Junior is initially intimidated by her opulent home. However, as he spends time with her family, he realizes that they are just as human and imperfect as his own family. This scene is a poignant reminder that people are more than just their social status or race.
Overall, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a poignant and insightful book that offers a unique perspective on the Native American experience. It is a book that is both heartbreaking and uplifting, and it is sure to resonate with readers.


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