'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian' by Sherman Alexie
While I have my issues with Alexie, he is one of the few real Indians read beyond the community. How well non-Natives will comprehend or are willing to acknowledge is another matter. - The Angryindian
Race and poverty aren't subjects Americans like to talk about. They're too loaded, too uncomfortable. But they are also too important to brush under the rug at a time when immigration issues loom large and there is greater disparity than ever between rich and poor.
Unless we're willing to talk about these touchy subjects -- to walk into the fire, so to speak -- it's difficult to understand opposing viewpoints and harder still to combat racism or impoverishment.
One of the best times to consider uncomfortable topics is in youth, when minds are still supple, opinions not yet set. And one of the best places is within the quiet confines of a book, where ideas can be introduced and pondered without pressure.
Even so, it takes a master's hand to transform sociological issues into a page turner that resonates with adolescent readers. Few writers are more masterful than Sherman Alexie, the prolific Native American author who, a decade ago, burst on to the literary landscape with a fierce prose informed by his experiences growing up poor on an Indian reservation near Spokane, Wash.
"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," Alexie's first novel for young-adult readers, draws on those experiences through a time-focused lens -- a single year in the life of 14-year-old Arnold Spirit.