Hello my blogger friends! I wanted to write reviews for the books I studied in my children's literature class this week. We're starting to move into the teen and young adult areas of literature now and I really enjoyed the books. I'm going to make these two reviews short today because I have to catch a train back to my hometown soon, so here are my quick reviews for Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Richard J. Frankland's Digger J. Jones. Summaries courtesy of Goodreads.
In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live. (Goodreads)
Favourite character: The protagonist, Junior/Arnold.
Favourite part of the plot: *spoiler alert* At the very end when Junior and Rowdy start hanging out again.
Setting: The two main settings of the book were the Spokane Indian reservation and the town of Reardan.
Style: Told from Junior/Arnold's point of view in the first person. We get a very honest retelling of his thoughts and feelings throughout the book in a simple language that is easy to understand and for the target audience (teens) to relate to.
Originality: The fact that Junior/Arnold was a very well rounded character was wonderful. A lot of stories only focus on overcoming the setbacks created by one aspect of the self, while this book looked at a character who had to battle against the negatives and stereotypes of many aspects of himself. For instance, while I was expect this book to be about a Native American boy fighting against white supremacy to make something of himself, the book was also about a boy fighting poverty, and a boy living with disability, all within the same character.
Digger is keeping a diary about the things that matter to him: piffing yonnies at the meatworks, fishing with his cousins, and brawling with the school bully. But it's 1967, and bigger things keep getting in the way. Digger is finding out who he is, what he believes, and what's worth fighting for. (Goodreads)
Favourite character: The protagonist, Digger.
Favourite part of the plot: *spoiler alert* I can't decide between when Digger, Darcy, and Stevie all start reading poetry or every scene between Digger and Tom (but especially the one where Tom calls him 'djaambi,' which means 'brother').
Setting: South Yarra in Melbourne, and Condah where Lake Condah Mission used to be, on Gunditijimara land. It's all in Australia, anyway.
Style: The whole book is written in diary-entry form, including dates at the start of each new section, and occasionally an indication of what time of the day it is. This lets us get a very close look at the inner workings of the main character's life.
Originality: It's nice to see a book about supporting the indigenous people of Australia that actually has a happy ending. I've never read a book that's from the point of view of an Aboriginal character before (or a half-caste, in this case).
Have you read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian or Digger J. Jones? What have you been reading?