Banned Book Club · Book Reviews

Banned Book Club’s BoTM: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Banned book clubBanned Book Club is a meme I host where we read one historically challenged book a month. We support free speech and fight censorship every chance we get. Join our Goodreads group and DM me on Twitter to join our group chat.


Book of the month (May 2018): The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Banned for: Violence, language, sexual content


Despite being written by a problematic author (a known sexual offender), I thought the book was good. But I’m also confused by my reaction to it. Read on to find out more.

Goodreads synopsis:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianBestselling 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.


The Absolutely True Diary… is a powerful book about Arnold/Junior, a 14-year-old Spokane Indian who moves away from his reservation to go to school. He has brain damage, he’s the only Native American in his all-white school, his parents are alcoholic, he’s considered a “retard” in his own reservation–this book is the perfect example to explain intersecting identities to the naive.

And that’s why I liked this book.

Arnold tells his story using both words and sketches and they’re funny, witty, and include a whole lot of teenage angst. This book made me laugh out loud, tear up, and overall, feel inspired by a fictional teenager.

But, not everything about this book is as glowing.

Several women have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment from Alexie. I would never want to support an artist who’s a known harasser, but what do you do, if despite all odds, you end up liking the book?

As the host of the Banned Book Club, I’ve made a small number of people read this book. I’ve written a glowing review about it. And I feel super guilty about it.

[Related: Chai Break: Is it okay to love the art but hate the artist?]


In all, this book is powerful, moving, and good to read, if you can put Alexie’s actions in a different box. Or you could, like yours truly, read it and feel guilty about liking it.


Rating: 4 out of 5


~ Shruti

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27 thoughts on “Banned Book Club’s BoTM: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

  1. I didn’t know that about the author until I read through the discussion after I’d read the novel. I’m conflicted too, but I try to view art as seperate from the artist. Death of the author and all that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh and Hannah, I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m not able to comment on your posts. My wordpress login doesn’t work on blogspot comments (*eyeroll*). The Disqus plugin is my saviour, lol.

      I have no idea how I should go about this. Do I create a new google plus account?


  2. I didnt know about Alexie before I read the book and i am glad I didnt! I am sure I wouldnt have been able to enjoy as much as I did. After Morgan Freeman who next?
    Loved the grandma 🙂 But i couldnt really digest the violence, especially considering the already damaged brain of Junior. it’s a miracle that he survived. And I have to confess that I didn’t get the joke on page 122 or was it 125? Anyway I had a blast reading it – thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG yes, Morgan Freeman! It pisses me off, how these men think they can get away with anything.

      And you’re right about the violence. The kid has brain damage and yet, they keep beating him up and knocking him unconscious? Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

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