I am harboring a latent concern that I might seem overly shallow or vapid because I have some impossibly shallow interests. I know! I love Blair Waldorf! I love shopping and thinking about shopping and shoes and so much more. Sometimes I catch myself daydreaming about candy. CANDY. In a sad Friday afternoon attempt to temper my new addiction to reading Gossip Girl (which also seriously needs to end, like, next week), I am reporting to you on Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which I finished last night. ATDPTI is a young adult book, as is the Gossip Girl series, and they are world upon world apart. If my hypothetical child expressed an interest in reading GG, I would barf and plead with him/her to consider something else. If my hypothetical child expressed an interest in reading ATDPTI, I would cheer and applaud, although maybe silently.
Junior is the kind of character I can get behind. The kind of character I would want to be pals with, the kind of character I would want my hypothetical child to be (unlike, omg, Blair Waldorf). I would reccommend this book for any and all young adults I know. I don’t remember reading much fiction about Native Americans by Native Americans when I was younger (I actually can’t even think of any even now, other than Alexie’s work and some of the newer children’s books by Louise Erdrich, neither of which existed when I was young). I am delighted that a book like ATDPTI exists–a book that is a little scary to young adults with subject matter that is a little challenging and difficult to swallow (in particular if you are used to, say, the glossy and exorbitant tales of Blair & Serena in GG). I think Alexie is one of the greatest and most accessible (I say this with so.much.respect!) writers to emerge in the last two decades. I love his writing in many capacities: I think he is a gifted poet, fantastic fiction writer, and–crucially–a mighty young adult writer. Do we even teach young adults and children in the US about reservations and reservation life? I don’t think we do: it is likely painful, embarrassing and atrocious to admit what happened to a classroom full of kids, and a work like Alexie’s seems a powerful avenue for conveying to young adults exactly what the fuck it is we’ve done.
GG, on the other hand. Dang. All these books have taught me is how to effectively hide the cover of my book from fellow bus-riders.