Common Reading Experience  
 

 

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Past Selections: 2012-2013 Academic Year

 
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
By Sherman Alexie
 
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

About The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

 

The Common Reading Experience committee is very excited about this year’s election, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie which won the National Book Award in 2007.  Author of acclaimed novels, poetry, and short-stories, Alexie is a major literary figure and commentator on American culture.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian marks Alexie’s first foray into Young Adult fiction; however, the book has been a cross-over success engaging readers of all ages.  

 

Drawing from his own experiences growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington, Alexie fictionalizes what he has called the turning point in his own education and development.  The narrator, Arnold Spirit, is a

fourteen-year old who chooses to attend a more affluent and relatively more urban High School in Rearden rather than the reservation high school his friends and family attend.  Arnold struggles with dating, self-expression, high school athletics and being a generally geeky and bookish teen as well as the even more serious issues surrounding poverty and morality. Thematically, Alexie explores the various influences that shape Arnold’s identity. 
 

Not quite a graphic novel and not quite an autobiography, the novel taps into blending text with cartoon images.  "I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats," Arnold explains.  In a world riddled by poverty, these imbedded “tiny lifeboats” help Alexie temper sadness with comedy and ultimately offer a message of hope about education, friendship, and family.

 

We look forward to discussing the book this fall and talking about the important influences that shape our Aquinas community.