81 pages 2 hours read

Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2007

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Teacher Introduction

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

  • Genre: Fiction; young adult semi-autobiographical; coming-of-age
  • Originally Published: 2007
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile 600L; grades 7-12
  • Structure/Length: 30 chapters; approximately 230 pages; approximately 4 hours, 35 minutes on audio
  • Protagonist/Central Conflict: The novel follows Arnold Spirit Jr., a 14-year-old boy living on the Spokane Indian Reservation. After deciding to attend an all-white high school off the reservation, Arnold grapples with his identity as he straddles two vastly different worlds—that of his Native heritage and that of the white community he is trying to integrate into.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Racism; racial slurs and stereotypes; poverty; alcohol use disorder; bullying; death and grief; occasional profanity; sexual references; anti-gay bias and use of slurs. Please note that the author, Sherman Alexie, has been repeatedly accused of sexual harassment; as you consider the appropriateness of this author for your classroom, you may wish to read this thoughtful New York Times piece on this issue.

Sherman Alexie, Author

  • Bio: Born 1966; Spokane-Coeur d'Alene-American novelist, short story writer, poet, and filmmaker; grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation; work often explores themes of despair, poverty, violence, and alcohol use among the lives of Native American people; writings known for their candid, thought-provoking nature; one of the key figures in contemporary Native American literature
  • Other Works: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993); Reservation Blues (1995); Flight (2007)
  • Awards: National Book Award for Young People's Literature (2007); ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2008); Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (2008); California Young Reader Medal (2010)