Tag Archives: Native Americans

Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Absolute True Diary...

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie

230 pages

Arnold Spirit Junior was supposed to die at during surgery when he was six months old. Born on a Spokane Indian Reservation, he was too much cerebral spinal fluid on his brain that had to be drained off right away. His head is large and he needs thick glasses. He talks slow and is bullied by most of the kids and some of the adults on the Reservation. Yet, he is the wisest kid I have ever read about.

Life is tough for him, yet he keeps on going. His family is close. When you don’t have anything including steady meals you learn to depend upon your immediate and extended family.

After an altercation at the Indian school, Junior’s teacher advises him to get out. He feels Junior will never survive if he stays on the Res. With alcoholic parents and no future to speak of except a life of poverty, Junior decides he wants to go to a white school off of the Reservation.

Even though the kids live within twenty miles of the Res, it is a different world with different rules. Junior is in a foreign place trying to learn the rules and language without harming himself or anyone else.

This book is amazing. The characters are so well developed I felt like I could have a conversation with them. The tragic events this fourteen-year-old boy experienced are more intense than most adults will experience. But don’t get the impression that this is a sad, depressing book. It is a book about hope, over-coming challenges and taking risks. The lessons Junior learns are life lessons all of us should appreciate and heed.

This novel deals with human and often controversial issues in an honest and straightforward way without the sugar-coated illusions in other books. There are sexual situations (yeah, he is a 14 year-old – what did you expect?), alcohol abuse (unfortunately this is a problem on Indian Reservations), salty language (see the earlier note about how old these kids are), and the problem with fitting in/bullying are all throughout the book. This is the reason it was placed on the list of banned books.

Unless your teen has been living in seclusion or away from all other kids and social media, I don’t really think there is anything in Alexie’s book that they haven’t seen or heard. It is such an amazing read with subtle ways to cope with bullying and making your life work when it seems like nothing is going your way I would honestly have allowed my sons to read it. I would have bought it for them. If you are concerned – read it first or at the same time and discuss it.

And if you live in country that gives you the freedom of deciding what you want to read – I am happy for you. I take that freedom seriously so nothing makes me want to read a book more than placing it on a banned list. There are just so many I don’t know if I’ll ever have time to read them all, but am extremely happy that I read this one.

If you read it, or have read it – let me know your thoughts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Banned Books, Book Review, NaBloPoMo, Native Americans, YA Novel

Book Review: Risky Undertaking – Action Packed Mystery

Risky-Undertaking-Cover-178x276Risky Undertaking

By Mark de Castrique

249 pages

Barry Clayton wears two hats in his hometown of Gainesboro, North Carolina. He is a part-time sheriff’s deputy and a full-time undertaker. In Risky Undertaking his two professions are on a collision course that can’t be stopped.

At a friendly poker game, Barry hears of an expansion deal on the local cemetery owned by Mayor Whitlock. Whitlock has called in the press, already excited about the grand opening of the newly acquired land. Unfortunately, at the groundbreaking ceremony dirt isn’t the only thing found in the posthole digger’s claws – bits of pottery and what appear to be human remains are unearthed also. The land is close to the Cherokee Reservation and all digging must be stopped until they can determine if this was once a sacred burial site.

The hiccup in Whitlock’s plan could not have come at a worse time. The Cherokee are upset about the possibility of a new casino coming in owned by the Catawba tribe. There have been protests both for and against the Catawba Casino due to the amount of money the Cherokee may lose to the competition as well as the amount of money the contractors may lose from the casino not being built.

If that isn’t enough going on in the town, dead bodies start to pile up. First a prominent woman dies of natural causes, but then a body is found on her grave by unnatural causes. A Boston hit man is seen at the Cherokee casino and a young boy goes missing.

Can the boy be found before he dies or is killed? Why has someone stolen an artifact collection? Will Burin’ Barry end up in one of his own graves? Whew – it is hard to turn the pages fast enough to keep up with the action!

This is the sixth novel in this series. It reads very well as a standalone, there is just the right amount of back story to get a new reader up to speed, yet not too much as to bore readers of his previous novels. De Castrique also has another series which “explores the rich history of Asheville from Tomas Wolfe to Carl Sandburg” that sounds intriguing also.

I love the afterword which tells the reader the facts behind the novel. He explains there is a new casino coming in that will diminish the number of people visiting the Cherokee cultural centers as well as impact the much needed revenue to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. It saddens me to see what has happened to the native people in our country.

Even though the underlying cause and events are serious, this mystery is full of quips and smart dialog that make the reader smile and possibly chuckle out loud. Barry is an awful card player yet finds himself participating in several games. The Cherokee officer Barry is working with, Romero, calls the sheriff “Rooster” after Rooster Cogburn. It is a term of endearment, and amuses me – I think it will amuse you too.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Cherokee, Mystery, Native American, poisoned pen press