This month we completed our five-part challenge of 2016 by reading a book that has been banned. We read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
Here’s the publisher’s description:
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 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.
With a forward by Markus Zusak, interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney, and four-color interior art throughout, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike.
Overall, everyone in the book club seemed to really like this book. We all agreed that it was unfortunate that this book had been banned and it really shouldn’t have been.
What really got me confused was the fact that it was banned because it spoke about masturbation. I get it, some mothers and fathers out there didn’t want their children to have access to a book that talks about masturbation. What I don’t get is the fact that masturbation wasn’t really a subject matter in the book. I mean it was hardly mentioned at all, only in passing. I think it was meant to reflect the true thoughts of a young man, the protagonist of the story. I don’t feel it was done in untasteful or inappropriate manner at all. It felt true to the story and the boy’s voice, allowing the character to seem real.
So why was it banned if it hardly even mentions the subject?
Your guess is as good as mine.
My guess: People with too much time on their hands wanting to control what others can and can’t have access too. (I am 99% sure this is an accurate guess.)
What was really compelling about this novel was the boy’s coming of age story about his life on the Indian reservation. This book does delve into some deep aspects about life, poverty, alcoholism, and family. That is the real gem about this book, it is real to everyday life.
It is told in an often funny tone with art depections. The art in this book was so much fun and felt so real to the things my friends and I use to draw as adolescents. The use of art as an expression for the boy in this book gave me a new appreciation for the book as a whole.
I gave this book a rating of 4 of 5 stars. I would highly recommend to middle-school readers up to adult. There is a lot to get out of this book from any age.