It is no wonder that this book is on many folks' lists for possible Printz contenders. I stole away from the office at noon and headed south in our first blue norther of the year (rain and temps now in the 50s!) so that I could check into the hotel and spend the afternoon reading THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie from start to finish without interruption. Well, some truth in advertising here: I had read the first chapter in one of the give aways LB had at a conference earlier in the year and knew I would love the rest of the book.
So, why all the praise? Begin with a narrator who is not only brilliant but sharply funny (the one liners are too many to mention) and acerbic to boot. Add to the mix the very real pathos of this kid's life. Junior, aka Arnold Spirit, leaves the rez to attend Reardon, a school where he can learn more and perhaps make his way to college. His leaving puts him at odds with his best friend, Rowdy, and many of the others who call him an apple (red on the outside...). However, Junior perseveres somehow finding his way into this new and strange world. Junior's road will not be without some huge potholes, ones that could swallow someone twice his size. But Junior manages to float over the gaping maws and land on his feet (well, most of the time). No one is all good or all bad here. Characters are so alive they sparkle.
Like Junior, I now belong to some tribes: the tribe of Alexie fans, the tribe of readers who know the value of reading a book more than once (see what Junior's new friend Gordy has to say about that), and more:
a tribe of American immigrants
a tribe who has been to too many funerals
a tribe who still gets nervous (though does not yuck, thankfully)
and a tribe who carves out time to read a memorable novel on a rainy Monday.