The featured selection for Malden Reads 2013 is “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian” by Sherman Alexie.
It’s the story of a teenage Native American who finds the courage to aim high and pursue his dreams, even if that means becoming an outsider at home and at his new school.
So why did Malden Reads choose a book about a teenage Native American struggling to find his identity as this year’s community read? It turns out there are lots of great reasons to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian.
To start with, it’s funny and insightful, very readable and illustrated with great cartoons. It even has some fantastic scenes on the basketball court. We think it will be an engaging read for anyone, ages 14 and up.
It’s a National Book Award winner and the author, Sherman Alexie, has written many critically acclaimed works. He is currently a very hot commodity on the book circuit, promoting his new collection of short stories called Blasphemy.
Maybe it would help if we compare it to some other things you might know. Think S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, but funnier, or maybe Stand By Me, the film by Rob Reiner, with more relevance to issues we all face today.
The book spotlights the issues of Native American life in modern America - unemployment, poverty, alcoholism, and the future of the tribal way of life – but the reason it has been so popular and the choice for many other community reads programs is that its themes touch all of us. Junior, the main character, is a shining example of a young man learning to be resilient and true to himself when the odds are stacked against him.
The book also chronicles what happens at the point where two very different cultures come together, the place where tolerance is learned. We think this, in particular, is a theme that all Maldonians can relate to.
The critics have been universal in their praise of Alexie and Part-time Indian. Kirkus Reviews says that Alexie “deftly mingles raw feelings with funny, sardonic insight,” and VOYA, a respected young adult librarian’s organization, calls the book, “Realistic and fantastical and funny and tragic-all at the same time.”
The Malden Reads committee adds their praise to these voices, and believes that this poignant, thoughtful coming-of-age story will appeal to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider or struggled to find yourself - in short, to anyone who has ever come through the rites of passage that take us into adulthood.
A community read is all about community, and Malden Reads is planning a slate of book discussions and events to bring people together around this great story this winter. To learn more, find us on Facebook or visit our website, www.maldenreads.org.