Banned Books Week: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

BlogHer Original Post

In celebration and acknowledgement of Banned Books Week we'll be featuring some of the books that have been banned or challenged across America this week. Some of the titles might surprise you.We'll look at why they were banned and why readers have found them important.

Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian hit bookstore shelves in 2007 and people haven't stopped talking about it, or challenging it, since. The publishers synopsis says that it "chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live." It does but seems that not everyone thinks that this semi-autobiographical tale is right for the kids the same age as Alexie's 14 year old protagonist, Junior. Challenges have been attempted on the basis of offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violent.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Sherman AlexieClare, the literary omnivore read Alexie's book for a children’s and young adult literature class in college.

He rails against the system to the degree that he understands them; the inciting incident of the novel is just one of these. It’s a remarkable piece of work, combining an exploration of these heavy issues with a fantastic main character I think young adults will identify with.

From Liz at My Favourite Books talks off Junior's having to deal with alcoholism, poverty, bullies, prejudice and blatant racism.

It sounds awful, and it is. Sherman Alexie does not shy away from these subjects. And as much as he highlights them, and doesn't baulk from the reality living in a world that seems as harsh as it is, it is Junior's matter of fact, almost stream of concsiousness telling that keeps the story from becoming tedious and a misery memoir.

Carina at Reading Through Life acknowledges that the novel is intense, but then so are some kids' lives.

I’m really not sure what to say about this book, other than to tell you that it’s a really tragic and heart-wrenching narrative of someone wanting to grow up to escape his surroundings and the destiny that seems to have already been chosen for him. If you’re going to suggest a book to a disenfranchised kid, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian would absolutely be the way to go.

Just in case you are thinking that Alexie doesn't bring literary merit to the table, he won the 2007 National Book Award for Young Adult Fiction for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. If his acceptance speech (he comes on at about 4:30) doesn't cause you to tear up just a little bit, you are made of sterner stuff than me.

We all need someone who can help us realize that people might listen to us, too.

BlogHer Book Club Host Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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