Dear Mr. Sherman Alexie,
Young kids seem to go through life without a care in the world. I didn’t overthink anything as a child. When my grandmother passed away, I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand why my mom was not herself. As an 8th grader reflecting on these past few years, things began to make more sense as I got older. I started to feel the pain I didn’t understand a few years back. In your novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Junior was not a young kid who didn’t care about what people thought of him. Towards the beginning of the book, I noticed that judgement was affecting him in a negative way. I saw a shift in Junior’s character from the beginning to the end of the book. The shift was when he realized what mattered and what didn’t. What mattered to him was Rowdy and his family. There were deaths and moments where Junior felt weak but it all shaped who he became at the end of the book. Junior shaping into the strong guy he became at the end of the book showed me that you don’t have to be a young kid to not care what people think about you.
All throughout the book, Junior seemed to have been dealing with some sort of loss whether it was his best friend or his grandma. Those parts of the novel hit me hard because it shows me how quick somebody can be gone. Whenever someone would die, he would be surprised. It’s hard to live your life expecting the unexpected but your book showed that sometimes it’s all we can do to prevent getting hurt later down the road.
One question in your novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian gave me the opportunity to be honest with myself. “Do you know the worst things about being poor?” Instantly when I read that question I thought that being poor was just not having money. Being poor is way more than just not having enough money for a meal. Junior had missed some day of school because either his dad was too drunk to take him, or he didn’t have enough money to go on the school trips that the rest of the class was attending. Before reading the novel, something that I would’ve considered a “bad day” would’ve been an amazing day for Junior. I was put in a position of taking a minute to realize all there is to be thankful for. Not only do I know now all I have to be grateful for, but I have an understanding of poverty and how it truly does affect lives.
Your novel taught me so many lessons I can carry out through my life. The most important thing I took from your novel was that growing up shouldn’t affect the way I judge myself. Not caring about what anyone thinks about me shouldn’t just be something that happens as a “young kid”. Junior realized that all he needed was a true friend and his family. Once he began to accept himself as who he is, others did also and that is truly inspiring.