Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


Sherman Alexie

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Even though he gets beat up every day, Junior is excited about the start of school and being able to take Geometry. He loves isosceles triangles. He’s excited that is, until he opens his text book, when it turns out to be the exact same book his mother had when she took Geometry. The exact same book! There is her name right in it. Her name before she married his dad. The book must be 30 years older than Junior! So he does what any passionate geometry student would do he goes off. He gets suspended, which gives him time to think. He realizes he has to leave the rez if he wants to get a decent education. He enrolls in the all white farm town school 22 miles away. Thus begins his career as a part time Indian. Find out how Arnold (his off reservation name) does at Reardon High. Read Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. When Arnold starts at Reardon High he has a bit of a culture shock even though it’s only 22 miles for the reservation. Have you ever had that experience?
  2. Arnold says his parents are pretty good parents … “Sure, my dad has a drinking problem and my mom can be a little eccentric, but they make sacrifices for me. They worry about me. They talk to me.” And best of all they listen to me. What do you think? Are they good parents? How would you describe a good parent?
  3. Arnold says his grandmother’s most important quality is tolerance. Why did he say that? What quality is the most important in somebody you love and admire?
  4. Nobody is more surprised than Junior when he becomes popular at Reardon. What about him draws people to him?
  5. Poverty plays an important role in Arnold’s life. Does he experience things due to being poor that you never thought about?
  6. What did his drawings and cartoons contribute to the book? What does his drawing do for him?
  7. How are Junior’s friendships with Rowdy and Gordy different?
  8. This book has received more than one challenge suggesting it is not suitable for teens. What do you think? What would people find objectionable in the book?

If you liked this book, try

  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  • Heart of a Chief by Joseph Bruchac
  • Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt
  • Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos
  • Rain is Not Ny Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Cheif on the Reservation and Beyond by Joseph Medicine Crow
  • Counting Coup: A True Story of Basketball and Honor on the Little Big Horn by Larry Colton

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.