Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian without a doubt makes the list of essential young adult books… This book kept me hooked the entire time, with the interesting (if not a little slow) plot and characters, amazing language and writing style, and added drawings and cartoons.
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Coming-of-Age, Sports (Basketball)
Rating: 4.5 stars
In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian without a doubt makes the list of essential young adult books, such as this awesome flowchart here. This book kept me hooked the entire time, with the interesting (if not a little slow) plot and characters, amazing language and writing style, and added drawings and cartoons. In fact, this book reminded me quite a bit of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney, not only because of the similar names but because of the storytelling style (although Sherman Alexie’s is much more poetic and sophisticated) and cartoons interspersed throughout, aiding in the storytelling.
This book addresses everything teens think and worry about, including physical image, disabilities, social status, sexuality, gender, drug and alcohol abuse, race, wealth, death, and much more. The events in this book range from hilarious to quite serious, and Sherman Alexie writes all with ease.
As I shared about in my recent The Very Inspiring Blogger Award post, I compete on my high school’s Forensics (as in public speaking) and Debate team, reading poetry and prose, which are among many of the events available. Last year I read Crazy Horse Boulevard by Sherman Alexie as a poetry piece, one I came to love dearly and highly recommend. When reading this book I was constantly finding perfect chapters and sections to read as a prose piece this year, for its engaging and interesting quality even when not reading the book from the beginning, and Sherman Alexie’s create use of words, and sentence and paragraph structure.
I highly recommend this book for all teenagers, regardless of their favorite genre or interest in reading. Although I can understand why it isn’t a common required reading book in schools, it should be a required pleasure read!
Genre Review: Realistic Fiction
This is the sort of genre I only enjoy if the author is extremely good. Sherman Alexie certainly joins the ranks of those such as John Green on this level. Although I have absolutely no interest in basketball, I was still interested in the frequent games Arnold (also called Junior) excelled in, despite his many obstacles. I think I can credit this to Sherman’s amazing writing, which reads more like poetry with added drawings done by talented Ellen Forney.
Here is an example from the first few pages of the reason I treasure Sherman’s writing so highly:
“I draw all the time. I draw cartoons of my mother and father; my sister and grandmother; my best friend, Rowdy; and everybody else on the rez. I draw because words are too unpredictable. I draw because words are too limited. If you speak and write in English, or Spanish, or Chinese, or any other language, then only a certain percentage of human beings will get your meaning. But when you draw a picture, everybody can understand it. If I draw a cartoon of a flower, then every man, woman, and child in the world can look at it and say, ‘That’s a flower.’ So I draw because I want to talk to the world. And I want the world to pay attention to me… I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats.”
And an example of Ellen Forney’s fantastic cartoons: