I had a tough time getting to sleep last night (no idea why) so I finished reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. I finished not only the novel, but the group discussion, the interview with the illustrator, Ellen Forney, and the interview with the author.
I liked the book. Something about it didn’t quite catch hold of me, but it did draw me in. I’d recommend it, especially if you’re in the mood for a coming-of-age novel that talks about social issues.
It’s the story of a 14-year-old Native American named Arnold Spirit, Jr. (The novel uses the term “Indian” throughout.) Everyone knows him as “Junior”. He lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation, in Washington State. He has hydrocephalus, which causes him to be bullied a lot. Junior is good at playing basketball and drawing cartoons.
Things become complicated for Junior when he follows a teacher’s advice and transfers from the reservation school to an all-white high school twenty miles away. As a result, he loses his best friend, Rowdy, who thinks that Junior has turned his back on “the rez”, but Junior also makes new friends. Junior moves back and forth between two cultures, making him feel like a “part-time Indian”.
It’s a comical story, but includes some serious issues, treated seriously, like alcoholism, poverty, and the high mortality rate among Native Americans.
Meanwhile, my copy of Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s first or second novel (depending on how you look at it), should be shipping any time now. It was published today, and I should receive my copy on Thursday.
In hindsight, I should have bought it from Elliott Bay Book Company. I don’t give them enough business. But when I pre-ordered it last February, I assumed that it would be like when we pre-ordered the Harry Potter books, and they arrived on the publication date. Oh, well. I have to admit that those Amazon Lockers are mighty handy.
This is the thing: I know that Go Set a Watchman is not going to be nearly as good as To Kill a Mockingbird. How could it possibly be? I may not like it. I may be disappointed in it. But I want to read it.
So, for the next two days, I’m being careful about what I read online. I’m trying my best to avoid spoilers. I’ve already learned one crucial thing about Go Set a Watchman, from two different people. I want to go into the book with as clear a mind as possible.
It’s going to a tough two days.