First of all, and unrelated to books, I had completely forgotten about weather. Grey days and sunny days don't mean weather to me; they're 95-98% of what the Bay Area experiences all year. No, it's *weather* that still startles me. Like tonight's rainstorm, which was bad enough that I actually read in the library for a while until the rain died down from a pounding roar to just a roar. That was...novel.
So I started reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
while waiting for the bus. And on the bus. And walking home from the stop (in the rain!) And so on until I finished it. It's a YA novel, so it didn't take much more than an hour or two. But oh, what an hour!
Our Hero is a skinny Spokane with a tendency to stutter and lisp and with severe brain injuries from birth problems. He draws because drawings can speak to anyone, while writing can only speak to people who understand the language. (And the books is illustrated with Junior's cartoons thoughout. The dirrent styles and uses are fantastic!) He's incredibly intelligent, and lives on the rez. Anyone who's heard Alexie talk about reservations knows that this is not a good combination. Junior gets fed up with life, and is encouraged by a teacher to find a different path. He spends his freshman year at an all-white school 22 miles from the rez.
It has a voice that rings very true. Arnold Junior is pulled by Hope and Home, and doesn't quite fit in either. There is bad in Hope, and there is bad in Home, and good in each. There are major, massive triumphs, and major, massive lamentations. There is no resolution at the end, just changing circumstance and the knowledge that life goes on.
This was lighter than a lot of Alexie's other work, and he knows that he is definitely writing for a teenaged audience. But he doesn't pull any punches, either. A lot of themes he's discussed before are present, if in simpler language than he normally uses. And a lot of the themes are also traditional to teen lit: finding a place for yourself, feeling new, understanding society's rules, living by your parents' laws vs. forging your own path...
All in all, a truly excellent work, with a lot of depth to it. It deserves every award that it has been given.