It’s Monday! What are you reading?: Week 13

This week I tried something a little new (or my book club made, either way, I did it) and read “The True Diary of Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. I was not sure if I was going to like it or not but I think I ended up liking it in the end, even though it made me feel different than most books do.

So the main character, Junior, as he is known on the “rez”, has had a rough life. His medical history presents an array of issues, including water on the brain, which left him with a largely unproportionate head. He claims to look like an “L” due to his overgrown feet, has glasses and his parents try hard to create the best life they can for Junior. His dad is a drunk but Junior has grown to just accept it as a fact of life, cause the way he sees it, that’s just life on the rez. His best friend, Rowdy, has a personality to reflect his name.

After an incident at the Native American school, Junior decides if he wants to be better than the world around him, he’s going to have to get a quality education. When he asks his parents if he can transfer to the school in the town 22 miles away, they agree and are surprisingly compliant. The kicker with the new school is it is a small, dominantly white population of farmers’ kids with a severely low tolerance for those different than them. When Arnold gets to school on the first day, he decides it is time to go by his first name; a new identity for his new school.

As the school year continues Arnold experiences hate from the rez and the kids at school. He also dates the prettiest girl in his class, starts on the varsity basketball team as a freshman and learns more about heartache than any teenage boy deserves to.

cartoon

I think you would have to be very careful about teaching this book in a classroom setting. Depending on the environment or relationship with the Native American community, clarification on each other’s cultures at the beginning and throughout the book may be necessary. It would also be a good lesson on the importance of diversity and perspective on life problems.

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7 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What are you reading?: Week 13

  1. preciouspalabrasblog says:

    I have heard a lot about this book- both good and bad! I really want to get it read. I’ve also heard of it being taught in the classroom, but don’t know about that. I teach nine miles from a reservation, and I think it could definitely cause some controversy. I can tell that and haven’t even read it yet!

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  2. rmaydowling says:

    I think you would definitely have to think things over before bringing it into the classroom. We talked a lot in book club about the different issues that could arise from this book, but at the same time there are a lot of good lessons to be learned from it. It really brings to life the story of a boy from the rez and is very educational for those that don’t understand or have preconceived notions about what that means.

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    • MaryAnneJ says:

      I remember in my 10th grade math class we were doing a story probelm that involved the deminsions of a tent. In the book it said to bring a tent into the classroom so that the students could understand what one looked like. We all thought that was insane cause what South Dakotan didn’t know what a tent looked like? I feel like this book could introduce a new idea or culture to areas that don’t experience it, much like camping and math.

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  3. sallenyfs says:

    You are correct about being careful teaching the book but I love having it in my library for kids to explore and form their own ideas. Most of the girls who have borrowed it from me have been Native themselves and felt it rang very true for them. I always ask for they thoughts and opinions about the books they read. Thanks for sticking it out, it can be hard to get into.

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  4. savannah3547 says:

    I read this book this week! I agree with your review. I thought it was a good book, but not in a way that I’ve experienced before. As with any book, knowing your students is important. You would defiantly want to make sure they were ready to read this book, and that you are prepared for the discussions that might come from it.

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