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Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie, Ellen Forney

It's strange how the Diary-of-a-Wimpy-Kid-style of this book makes it it on one hand hard to take the story seriously, but on the other hand it saves the book from being completely fucking depressing. Like it is simultaneously not serious enough and way too serious. It's a way of getting the story out there and in the hands of middle and high schoolers and that's a good thing, I suppose because it certainly offers a bigger view of the world (actually, a bigger view of the US) than is generally available in your standard middle class white suburb.

 

It feeds white guilt, while at the same time condemning white guilt, and that is a conundrum that is not easily solved. Maybe putting it into the hands of the next generation of Social Justice Warriors is the best we can do. Yes, I am aware that we don't need white saviors and that poc are perfectly capable of saving themselves, let's make sure Hollywood gets that message. Except in this case I don't think we're going to get anywhere unless white men start feeling a lot more guilt.    

 

Not that Alexie doesn't have plenty of guilt to dish out for the Indians too.

 

Two scenes in this book that illustrated the heartache on each side of the coin for me were

the scene where Junior is instrumental in taking revenge on the rez basketball team (who have admittedly treated him like shit in the previous game) by beating them soundly and two thousand white people cheer him on. But before they are even done celebrating he realizes that zero of the kids on the other team will go to college, several have not eaten that day, almost all of them live with alcoholic parents, half of them get beaten up by those and none of them have a future.

(show spoiler)

 

And then on the other hand

after his sister dies because the trailer she lives in catches on fire while she is passed out drunk and Junior wants to flee the house because, as he says, he would gladly stay if everyone came over and told stories about his sister, but he can't stand it when everyone comes over and tells stories about his sister while getting as drunk as she was.

(show spoiler)