Hi everyone! So I planned to have this posted actually on or around Thanksgiving but, being me, that didn’t exactly happen. Of course. Anyway, what made me want to write this post was an article by Petula Dvorak in the Washington Post about said holiday. Specifically, about Native Americans and their reactions to said holiday.
The article, which you can find here, says that some Native Americans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (which was before the settlers they had helped “nearly destroyed a civilization”). Many of the celebrations that go on at children’s schools involve stereotyping and insults, and students have been shut down when they attempt to bring up the other side of the story, aside from all the feasting and happy-happy-feelings. Some Native Americans do still celebrate it, but in the spirit of their culture (Thanksgiving originated as a harvest festival).
And, also. . .did you know Black Friday is actually a day to celebrate Native American culture and heritage? But instead it’s spent. . .well.
Are you kidding me?
Anyway, reading the article made me think of the book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, written by Sherman Alexie, which, actually, I have never reviewed. So the rest is self-explanatory.
The narrator of this book is Junior, a fourteen-year-old Native American boy living on a reservation near Spokane, Washington. And one of the first things he tells you is that he’s a member of the Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club.
Yep. Turns out, when you’ve got brain damage, you look a little funny because of said brain damage, and you have a couple of speech impediments, you automatically become everyone’s punching bag. No questions asked.
But just because Junior has brain damage doesn’t mean he isn’t smart (or human). Junior loves to learn. But when you’re learning in a reservation where sometimes you have to go wake up your teacher to get them to come to school, it doesn’t really look like it’s going to help you achieve your dreams.
So, Junior makes a pretty big decision. Instead of continuing to go to Wellpinit High School on the rez, he’s going to go to Reardan High School. In Reardan. Which is pretty much an entirely white town.
It can’t be ignored that this is going to cause some problems.
For one thing, quite a large number of Junior’s fellow Indians now consider him a traitor. And most of the white people at Reardan. . .well. Being ignored isn’t the best feeling in the world. Neither is getting called “Chief.”
But Junior is coping. He even starts to make friends. And he plans on trying out for the school basketball team. But when it feels like you’re spending your life in two very different places, where you’re often treated like two very different people, things get confusing.
Told through his writing and his cartoons (drawn by the talented Ellen Forney), Junior writes about his life, his experiences, and the lives of those around him. A lot of the time he’s writing about pain and grief, and it’s really an eye-opening look at modern life on a reservation. Junior’s got a great voice, honest and funny, and the other characters are written really well, too. The plot is amazing, and the art is great as well.
It’s frank and sad and really, really good.
>whispers whilst nudging you with an elbow< You should read it!
Also, can I just add that Sherman Alexie started this thing called Indies First, where on November 30th of this year (Small Business Saturday), he encouraged a lot of authors to go out and help sell books at their local independent bookstores?
He has a page about it on his website, and hey, you should watch this great video of him talking about indies and why they’re awesome and important:
I want to hug him.
Anyway, I guess that’s about it for now. I’m sorry for the big gap between reviews, and I hope everyone has a great day!
Literary Quote of the Day: “And Indian boys weren’t supposed to dream like that. And white girls from small towns weren’t supposed to dream like that, either. We were supposed to be happy with our limitations.” –The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie