Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Book

The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian is a story by Sherman Alexie about a Spokane Indian named Arnold Spirit (also called Junior) who is fourteen years old. He suffers from hydrocephalus, and the problems caused by it lead to him being bullied at his reservation. Junior realizes that because the reservation is poor, everyone has ceded. He decides to transfer to Reardan, a rich and successful school, to prove that he hasn't given up. During the time that he attends Reardan, Junior will deal with and make his way through all kinds of poverty-caused struggles.


Junior is a 14-year-old Spokane Indian who enjoys drawing cartoons. He feels that cartoons are best at expressing him. "I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats." (Alexie, pg. 6.) Because Junior is a teenager, he has the typical thoughts and behavior of someone around that age. His mom is apparently an ex-drunk and his dad still drinks, but not much. He had one friend named Rowdy before he went to Reardan. At Reardan, Junior gains more friends such as Roger and Gordy.

Conflict/Resolution and Theme

The conflict in True Diary is the character vs. society type. Junior is teased at the reservation due to his hydrocephalus and its effects. "I ran right into the Andruss brothers' camp. The Andrusses - John, Jim, and Joe - are the cruelest triplets in the history of the world. 'Hey, look,' one of them said. 'It's Hydro Head.' " (Alexie, pg. 20.) Junior is the only Indian at Reardan, which singles him out and causes people to call him names. To remedy this, Junior joins Reardan's basketball team and becomes a star. He also creates a small but growing relationship with a popular girl at Reardan.

I think that the theme of True Diary would be "Keep Fighting." I think that this is a fitting theme because Junior's hydrocephalus required surgery. Junior was not expected to live during the surgery. Later on, he throws a book at a teacher. The teacher has a talk with him. "You threw that book in my face because somewhere inside you refuse to give up." He said. "You've been fighting since you were born. You fought off that brain surgery. You fought off seizures. You fought off drunks and drug addicts. You kept your hope." The teacher is telling Junior that he is the only one left on the reservation who still has hope.

Powerful Parts

One part from the book which I think is important is when Junior throws a textbook at a teacher. The textbook was the same one Junior's mom used twenty years ago, and Junior was furious about the fact that his reservation was so poor. This is important because Junior refused to accept how poor they were. He had hope that things could be better for them.

Another part which is essential to the book is during Reardan's basketball game against Wellpinit. Junior is deliberately injured to prevent him from playing. He has to be taken to the hospital. When talking with his coach, he says, "I would walk out of this hospital and walk all the way back to Wellpinit to play them right now if I could." This shows how determined he is to prove himself against Wellpinit, and this leads directly to what is, in my opinion, the best quote in True Diary. I think this is the best quote because it shows that no matter what, Junior will never give up. He has hope for the future, that it might be better.


I would give this book four out of five stars. The reason for this is that the story is excellent and easy to understand. My issue is the language and teenage-type actions Sherman Alexie decides to include. They were not entirely necessary; the plot would still be great without them.

Reliable Information Sources and Video

American Indian Programs Target Bullying

American Indians and Bullying in Schools

Ban the R-word Racial Slur

Video: Celebrities Against Bullying

Works Cited

Bullying Infographic: https://aboutproximity.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/bullyfree-infographic.jpg

True Diary Image: http://bookblog.kjodle.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/atd057.jpg

Change the Mascot: http://media.oneidanation.net/images/OIN-CTM-NCAI.jpg

American Indian Programs Target Bullying: Lee, Tanya. "American Indian Programs Target Bullying." Indian Country. Today Media Network.com, 30 May 2011. Web. 5 May 2016.

American Indians and Bullying in Schools: Campbell, Evelyn M. "American Indians and Bullying in Schools." Journal of Indigenous Social Development. University of Minnesota Duluth, 14 Sept. 2013. Web. 5 May 2016.

Ban the R-word Racial Slur: Barkin, Joel. "During National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, Change the Mascot Urges School Administrators Across America to Ban the R-Word Racial Slur." Oneida Indian Nation. Oneida Indian Nation, 23 Oct. 2014. Web. 05 May 2016.

"Celebrities Against Bullying": TryModern.com "Celebrities Against Bullying." YouTube. YouTube, 21 Apr. 2012. Web. 05 May 2016.