Reflections on ‘True Diary’ by a Sherman Alexie fan
Noah Tunis, a 4th grader at Roland Park Elementary Public School, gave us his reflections on this year’s One Maryland One Book pick, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. A big fan of Alexie’s work, Noah was able to meet him at the Baltimore Book Festival and to get his book signed by the author. What would you ask Sherman Alexie about the book if you had the chance?
I think I connected most to Junior/Arnold Spirit Jr. or whatever you want to call him. The way Mr. Alexie told the story you could really imagine it happened although that is probably because most of it did. Junior goes through terrible times and he somehow goes through them and continues to live his life. One of the first examples of this is when he opens his math book and sees his mother’s name. He gets very mad and throws the book at his teacher but afterwards just doesn’t talk about it anymore except when his old teacher does. Another example of this is when Junior’s sister Mary has run away and married a man in Montana. She had a party with some friends in her new trailer in Montana. While she and her husband are passed out in a side room somebody left out a bowl of soup and a curtain touched it and the trailer burned down while she was asleep. When Junior hears this news in the middle of school and is let out early, for the minutes before his dad picks him up and mostly afterwards, he remains calm and doesn’t get mad or terribly depressed but just lives through it. Junior also keeps you connected with his opinions and drawings about his life and what happens in it.
I think this book is so popular with people of all ages is because it is such a good and well written story that even for young people of maybe 8 or 9 they would still love it even if they couldn’t understand all of the context and humor. Saying that, for people who do understand it, it is a really hilarious book.
Junior encounters many bullies and heroes and even a bully who turns out to be a hero. For one there is Roger the giant who starts out to be so mean and racist he actually makes a remark quoting “Did you know Indians are living proof n*****s f**k buffalo.” When I understood that and realized how terrible that was, I thought Roger could never be good. Actually he turns out to be a nice guy, lending Junior money and driving him places. I can’t say there are any bullies in my life that I can compare to the first impression of Roger but there are some good heroes. Firstly there are my parents who provide me with food, clothes and a home. Next are my teachers who don’t treat me any different than children of a different race and teach me lots of things.
In the book Junior seems very nice and cool. I think why that is, is because 1) he is just a nice guy and likable person but also 2) because he is the main character. Now you might not believe me but I have always found that when authors write books you always end up cheering for the main character even if he/she is the bad guy. Authors just write the story so that even if you can see other characters’ points of view you always either think the main character is better with a better reason or you just side with the main character in the story.
A few questions I would like to ask Mr. Alexie are 1) Was the girl in your book named Penelope real and if so was she your girlfriend/friend like you described in the book? 2) Did Eugene (Junior’s dad’s best friend) and Mary (Junior’s sister) really die as terribly as you describe it? I would love it if Mr. Alexie would answer these questions but unless he checks this blog I’ll never know the answer to these questions so I hope he checks it!!!!!!!!