By GABRIELA FIGUEROA, age16

Published by Sherman Alexie, 2007. Art by Ellen Forney.

Published by Sherman Alexie, 2007. Art by Ellen Forney.

Partially based on the author, Sherman Alexie’s life, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a humorous, but heartfelt story about a boy named Arnold (nicknamed Junior) growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. This compassionate coming-of-age story explores issues on identity, emotional well-being and bullying.

Life and school at the Indian reservation, or “The Rez,” as Junior calls it, was rough. People in his community had a dangerous problem with drinking too much alcohol, which often led to fights, and many people were very poor. Junior has a medical condition that makes him stutter when he speaks and sometimes he has seizures (when your body suddenly and uncontrollably shakes), so kids at school would beat him up.

Junior, who is smart, talented at drawing and aching for a better life decides to transfer to Reardan High, a school twenty miles away from “The Rez.” When he arrives, he realizes that he is the only Indian at an all white school. At Reardan, Junior was teased and he fought back. Afterwards, the teasing stopped he was accepted. Reardan does not have problems with alcohol and poverty like “The Rez,” but Junior now faces new challenges like being different.

It’s always good to start a book with a great hook, and that was done well within the first three pages of this story. Junior’s cartoon art are strategically placed throughout the book to add an extra layer of storytelling in Alexie’s book.

I’m glad that I read this book and encourage others in grades 7 to 12 to try it.