Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (copy)

Junior Spirit has problems. He was born with water on the brain or hydrocephalus. He almost died as an infant when they drained his brain. The resulting side effects are many with the most distinct being seizures. Thankfully, they occur less often as he ages.

Other problems are minor, but still major to a kid who would like to be invisible to bullies. Let’s see. He stutters and lisps plenty of times in the same sentence. His eyes are different sizes with one being far-sighted and the other near. Plus, he has 42 teeth, 10 more than regular kids, which gives him a distinct (talking with his mouth full) appearance.

To add to his health problems, Junior’s circumstances are bleak. His mother is an ex alcoholic, but his father still goes on benders. At least he is a happy drunk, his best friend Rowdy isn’t that lucky. Rowdy’s father is the mean kind who likes to take it out on the family. Junior and Rowdy happen to be founders of the exclusive Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club for various reasons.

Possibly the most debilitating problem for Junior is money. The family is poor. His father’s mother, his mother’s mother, and on and on from the time the white man settled America, have been poor. Not only his family, but Rowdy’s too. For that matter, the whole reservation is poor.

It is during Junior’s first day in Reservation High School that the water in his head boils over. See, he has looked forward to Geometry class for years. The idea of drawing shapes and deciphering problems is intriguing to his cartoonist mind. It is while receiving his textbook for the class it happens. He opens the book to see his mother’s name, her maiden name, on the inside cover. A name she has not used in 30 years!

Quiet Junior, gentle Junior, smart Junior has had it! The offending book is sent arcing to the front of the class where it meets Mr. P’s face. Junior Spirit has lost his.

Junior’s spirit quest begins the following week 22 miles away from his home. He has been accepted into the mostly white Reardan High School. Unfortunately, this places him at odds with the tribe. They begin referring to him as Apple—red on the outside, but white within.

Junior is going “off the rez” in this heart-wrenchingly delightful book by Sherman Alexie. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian will have teenage boys all over the country clamoring for more.

Note: Just a (Reading) Fool's point of view!