Since I mentioned this book in my last post, and I just finished reading it so it’s fresh in my mind, I thought I’d talk next about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

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What a great book! There were so many times where I just couldn’t stop laughing. Take this passage, for example: “Yep, that’s right. I admit that I masturbate. I’m proud of it. I’m good at it. I’m ambidextrous.” I think my husband thought I was going insane because I wouldn’t stop laughing when I read this.

Based on this same passage, of course, you can easily see why it was banned or challenged in schools across the country. Check out the American Library Association’s Top Ten Challenged Books list to see how often Part-Time Indian has been listed!

Now, I’m a librarian, and I think banning books is wrong and often pointless. I can clearly recall my parents telling me I couldn’t read certain titles – so I did it anyway, behind their backs. BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY IT’S A GOOD BOOK IF THEY DON’T WANT ME TO READ IT! Right?!

This kind of hearkens back to how I view books and reading anyway. To me, reading is a way to learn about new people/places/situations/cultures/etc. that I’d otherwise never get the chance to discover. When I was a kid, it often felt like most of the books that adults gave me were basically the same – white kids somewhere in America doing white kid things, often in rural settings. (Case in point, I was forced to read the atrocious novel Bert Breen’s Barn in middle school. If you have no idea what this book is, count yourself blessed. SO BORING).  And while there’s nothing WRONG with any of these books (besides the fact the Bert Breen’s Barn almost did permanent brain damage through boredom), after a while, they all started sounding the same. And my curious little brain wanted MORE. And often, those books that offer “more” aren’t available because A) they haven’t been written yet or B) adult don’t want kids to read them.

Also, you’re totally kidding yourself if you think your teen son is not masturbating. Come on. Be real. It’s not like he’s really going into detail here.

If you follow me on Snapchat (and you should be, it’s pretty awesome – username erin.lenae), you’ll know that I snapped a LOT of passages from this book.  And some of them weren’t always funny. Some of them were actually really, really sad – especially when he describes reservation life. There’s a lot of that juxtaposition in the book that really is at the core of the book’s brilliance. For example, the main character’s father is an alcoholic, but he’s still a very loving, committed family man. At one point, the father is driving his son to school (hungover), and he looks awful and probably feels awful, but he tells his son that he is a “warrior” for wanting to go to a school off of the reservation. And to the main character, that simple statement meant the world. It was actually a really touching moment between father and son.

I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend this book. I can’t believe it took me so long to read it myself. Everyone should read it – and then go read more of Sherman Alexie’s writing. I know I will be!

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