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

Arnold leaves the reservation and hopes of a better life at a small white school. The novel illustrates situations of alcohol and physical abuse, which although portraying real life, is mature content calling for a target audience of teens. This book can be placed in the contemporary realistic fiction genre since it allows readers to experience situations that could occur in people’s lives today. This job allows Arnold took narrate his story and not hold anything back. Many times Arnold apologizes for the ugly parts of his life but this is what makes the book relatable for some children. Even if one cannot relate, this book provides a realistic look at the struggles a student living on a reservation might have at fitting in with a drastically different culture.

“Many times Arnold apologizes for the ugly parts of his life but this is what makes the book relatable for some children.”
This novel fits well into contemporary realistic fiction because Arnold portrays many struggles that kids can relate to today. I was able to make a connection with another education class that I took last year when Mr. P apologize to Arnold and explains that when he came to teach on the reservation he was told to end the Indian culture. He expresses to Arnold the guilt he feels about attempting to take away their culture. And my class we talked about how the United States try to Americanize Indians through the education system. With this background knowledge I was able to better understand how skewed Arnold and his peers education was on the reservation. It made me more invested and hoping that Arnold was successful to leave the reservation and be allowed the equal education he deserves. I experienced an aesthetic response throughout reading this novel. I felt an emotional investment in the well-being of Arnold. I found myself cheering Arnold on. Although this book was assigned reading for class, I never felt like I was reading to obtain information. Instead through reading this book I felt I could Escape my world of homework and enter Arnold world of hoping for a better life.


Hope was a strong theme throughout this novel. The theme of Hope first took root when Mister P express the idea of it and got Arnold – wondering what hope is who has it and where it exists. Hope is infused throughout the story and still driving the story is Arnold expresses hope that one day his family and friends will understand the reasons he left the reservation. This theme enhances the story because it allows readers to grapple with the idea of Hope and look at Hope in many different dimensions. readers have the opportunity to see how hope allows Arnold to persevere throughout challenging circumstances.


By Abbie Silwicki
Illustrated by Ellen Forney. Little, Brown $16.99, 229 pages.  ISBN 978-0-316-01368-0

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