“I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats.” (Page 6)
Oh man, this book is funny. And sad. And tragic. And heartbreaking. And heartwarming. Junior lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation, known as the Rez. The Rez is rundown and beat up and the folks who live there aren’t doing so hot, Junior included. One day in school he gets so fed up with how horrible the school building is, he throws his text book across the classroom and his teacher accidentally gets in the way. So when said teacher is not angry, but instead suggests to Junior that he should go to school off the rez, in a white school, Junior is shocked. But Junior also knows that on the rez, it’s too easy to forget your dreams, and Junior dreams big: he wants to be a cartoonist. So he does it, and the next day he is enrolled in a high school where he’s pretty much the only indian kid.
This book feels so absolutely real. Junior talks like a 14 year old boy talks. He talks about everything, from alcoholism on the reservation to, yes, masturbation. Junior’s voice is so original, and partnered with the absolutely amazing illustrations by Ellen Forney, his voice is complete.
If there was one thing that frustrated me about this book, it was how quickly everything seemed to happen. I wanted it to be so much longer. It was very interesting to compare this book to If I Stay. The books deal with similar themes and handle them in incredibly different ways. I wanted more of the outstanding secondary character development that we saw in If I Stay. If I Stay could have used a hand in the realistic language that Alexie used in The Absolutely True Diary.
Alexie’s writing is so honest, and I feel like this is a culture that I know I am not very familiar with it. It’s a brutally honest portrait of a kids life on the reservation, and I definitely recommend it.
87% – Great for all ages, very quick read. Awesome illustrations.