Tag Archives: Native American

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: Coming-of-Age and Identity Conflicts

9f1e9-parttimeindianTitle: The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian

Author: Sherman Alexie

You must read this book because…this novel tells the story of a Native American teenager named Arnold “Junior” Spirit who suffers from physical ailments including hydrocephalus (which he refers to as “water on the brain”) and lives on a poverty-stricken reservation in eastern Washington. It’s first and foremost a bildungsroman (coming-of-age story) that focuses on Arnold’s transition into adulthood after he transfers to Reardan High School.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone, but its themes and messages would resonate most with teenagers and young adults who would find it to be more relatable. It explores topics common in teenage-oriented books such as bullying, identity, self-esteem, while also delving into the many economic hardships the protagonist must face as he develops and grows. However, the novel continuously maintains a dichotomy of tragedy and humor as it successfully deals with issues such as alcoholism and death while lightening the mood with a combination of funny comics/drawings and the protagonist’s sardonic narration.

The novel covers such a wide range of themes that anyone can find an aspect to empathize with and yet also looks at more unfamiliar subjects such as the struggles of Native Americans in modern society. There is rarely a dull moment and both the plot and narration are highly engaging.

In my opinion, this novel truly contains something for everyone and is most certainly worth reading.

Read this if you like…

–Ziqi, Greenwood, Teen Blogger


The Devil’s Paintbox: racism, poverty, war, and alcoholism

devilspaintbox The Devil’s Paintbox, by Victoria McKernan, is a historical fiction novel that takes place just after the American Civil War.  The story follows Aiden Lynch, a 16-year-old boy, and his journey with his sister to from Kansas to Seattle on an Oregon Trail wagon train.

During the course of his journey, he meets a tribe of Native Americans who are threatened by smallpox, or the Devil’s paintbox.  This book paints a clear picture of life out west, especially the absurd juxtaposition of the defeat of slavery with the callous disregard for the Native people. McKernan does not glorify the time period at all, but the book always avoids becoming overly dark or depressing, even when things are at their bleakest. Continue reading

Cracking the Hub: Annie Sullivan, The Round House & Juvenile in Justice

I finished The Hub Challenge just before the deadline.  The nineteenth book I read for the Challenge was Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert.

No doubt we all have heard about Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller.  They made education history when Annie Sullivan was able to break through into Helen Keller’s world, introduce her to language, and help her communicate with others.  As one of the Great Graphic Novels of the year we see this transformation, in pictures with few words, from the perspective of Annie Sullivan.
It’s been awhile since I learned about Helen Keller and her teacher.  Most of what I have learned until this point was about Helen Keller herself.  This graphic novel puts more emphasis on who Annie Sullivan was, her challenges growing up, her forthright personality that made living in the South difficult, and her attachment to her student and companion Helen Keller.  This was a fascinating read and thoroughly explores what it must have felt like for them both along their journey. Continue reading

Teen Review: Lakota Woman

Lakota WomanTitle:  Lakota Woman

Author:  Mary Crow Dog (Brave Bird)

Summary:  Lakota Woman tells the true story of Mary Crow Dog’s life during the Second Ghost Dance and the beginning of the American Indian Movement (AIM) during the 1970s. Mary grows from someone with little to live for that wanders the country to a strong, independent woman.

I started reading it because… it was assigned in school.

I kept reading because… it showed a glimpse into a life so different from my own that I was fascinated.  I learned so much about Native American culture and their life styles that I just wanted to keep on learning more.

Main character(s): If they were in a yearbook, they would be voted Most Likely To:  Become a feminist leader.

Six Word Recap:  Indian Woman becoming strong and empowered.

This book reminded me of books by Sherman Alexie.  He too reveals the harsh facts of how Native Americans really live their lives.

Interesting fact: In the sequel, some of the transformations Mary made are reversed.

Roxy, Northeast Teen Adviser