Friday, September 24, 2010

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie
Publication Date: September 12, 2007
Hardcover, 230 pages

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 and 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 authors own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings 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 thought he was destined to live. - Summary from Goodreads

Okay, Sherman Alexie, I doubt that this book is ABSOLUTELY true, but if it is, it may just be the best Absolutely True (or Absolutely slightly changed) teenager story I have ever read. I can definitely understand how The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian won the National Book Award. It has an amazing story about one boys adventure outside of his Indian Reservation, from where he was destined to be all his life to where he finally realizes he must leave the rez go to an all-white school. There, he learns who he truly is and realizes that he can be someone that he's never dreamed of being before. He understands that life on the rez doesn't have to be the only path of life he can take. Even that being an alcoholic is not the way he should live, despite the majority of the Indians he lives with are alcoholics.

I first was interested in this book not through seeing it on shelves or that nice shiny award on the cover, but rather, in a most peculiar way. In Massachusetts, starting from third grade every child in the public school systems must take an exam called MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) for all the basic curriculum topics, including reading and reading comprehension. One year, a reading comprehension story on the test was an excerpt from Sherman Alexie's book. It was a major basketball/life changing scene, where Junior takes on the huge, big bully, all-star, ex-best friend Rowdy in a match between his all-white team, Reardan, and his old rez team, Wellpinit. He creams them and humiliates them, and while basking in all his glory he turns around to see Rowdy and his old team. He knows that most of them haven't had anything to eat today. He imagines when Rowdy comes home to his drunken father, who will of course beat him to near-death for losing. He thinks about how none of them will go to college. None of them. He feels ashamed.

Junior is one of the most amazing characters of a story I have read in a long time. He had a fervid, strong voice from the start, and it only grew stronger through the story. Who knew a boy that was born with too much water in the brain, had constant seizures, ten extra teeth and "ugly, thick, black, plastic" glasses would soon be dating the most popular girl in Reardan, be close friends with Roger, the star of the football team, and join the varsity basketball team as a freshman? Who knew that those companions would deeply respect him for who he was, no matter how poor he was? But even more importantly, who knew that a boy so unimportant, so unnormal could be the strongest, most independent and brave person on an entire Indian Reservation? Junior had a lot of guts to leave Wellpinit High and go to an all-white school off the rez. He had alot of nerve to punch Roger in the face and give him a bloody nose. He had a lot of nerve to talk to Penelope, the pretty blonde. But what I loved most about him was his love/hate relationship with Rowdy, his best friend since birth. Rowdy started to hate him, swear and hit him after he left the rez. What I believe was the true reason behind the Rowdy's violence was not that he thought Junior was a trader, but more on the part that Rowdy loved Junior too much to see him leave. But I love the way Sherman describes their love for each other (no, not in that way) no matter what happened. I love how Sherman cleverly describes guy-love, how guys can love each other alot but since their boys they won't actually admit it. I find that extremely funny, but definitely one hundred percent true. And also most of the time, their way of showing love is by insulting each other, fighting or being rude. As Junior says, "Man, you gotta love someone that much to hate them that much, too." Rowdy and Junior's friendship was deeper than the crazy weird Turtle Lake, which according to Junior, " was, like, forever deep."

Juniors adventures are, strangely, very philosophical. He is hilarious, with his descriptions of people, places and events along with the fantastic comics that go along with his story. I love his drawings of his teachers and tribe-members, the two of whom are compared to volcanoes and chickens. But apart from all the silliness and hysterical-ness of it all, the deeper meaning is what I found was the best part. Junior has lived a particularly sad life. Being an Indian is not what most people think it is. They receive barely any money from the government, and a majority of adults in the reservations have developed a habit of spending that money on drugs and alcohol. Because of this, lots of members of his tribe die in car accidents, shootings or fights with each other while being intoxicated. These deaths cause grief for Junior, and he stays out of school for very long periods of time. He is rejected by everyone in his tribe on the rez except for his family, for being a trader and transferring schools. At one point, Junior even has to get stitches from angry rez members throwing things at him. Yet he manages to stick through it, persevere, let life go on, and stay passionate to his goal of finding success, (and himself!) in leaving his safe-zone and going to an all-white public school.

Sherman Alexie reveals a culture in America that has been widely forgotten. The ever changing lifestyle of American Indians is something that most Americans are unaware of. Alexie points out that many of the rich, cultural traditions, customs and rituals are fading, and the newer generations are becoming less and less aware of their what was once a deep, thriving way of life. However, there are still those, such as Junior, who are aware of the changes, and instead of following that main road, decide to go down the one less traveled by. The road that can make all the difference, the one that shows them who they really are, and who they can be when they know not to be pulled down by who they are expected to be. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a fantastic book filled with humor, wit, character, sadness, coolness (yes!) and pretty much just about anything a young adult reader would love.

4.5 Beasts

Blog Hop and Follow Friday 9/24/10

Book Blogger Hop
Hey bloggers and readers!
Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books
Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View

This weeks Blog Hop question:
When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?

My answer: I wait until I have finished the book before I start writing my reviews. I do this because often times the overall theme of the book is a process that takes the entire book to understand, and is powerfully concluded near the end. My rating for a book is decided upon the story, plot, theme, character development etc. which is hard to ascertain simply by reading and reviewing page by page. In my opinion, it takes the whole book to make it be "reviewable".

This weeks FF question:
What is your high fashion book? (Best cover ever!)

My answer: On The Adoration of Jenna Fox [Hardcover] book. there is a butterfly. If you look closely to the butterfly, a part of its left wing is missing. I would say close to ten percent. I will not say anymore about the wing, but for those of you who have read this book I hope you understand the importance of this. It's not the beauty of the cover that I love, but rather the important relation to the story from the cover.

Hoppers, I will follow you back if you let me know that you follow me!

While your here, don't forget to check out my 50 Followers Contest! Ends September 30.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Blog Hop and Follow Friday! 9/17/10

Book Blogger Hop
Hello there hoppers!
Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books
Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View

This week:
In honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, let's take time this week to honor our favorite book bloggers and why we love them!

At the moment, I have two favorite book bloggers. My favorite blog is The Smarty Owl, a YA book blog by Okapi and Rica Eat World. They have by far the best blog I know of, and their reviews are AMAZING. My second favorite blog is I'd So Rather Be Reading by Kelli and Natalie, because they were the ones who gave me my first two blog awards. And they have given me multiple positive comments on many of my reviews.

For you hoppers and followers out there: Leave me a comment saying you follow me, and I'll follow you back!

Also, be sure to check out my contest!
Ends September 30

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Rating System

All right guys- I need to make space for some more pages on the top of my blog. So, I have decided to remove the rating system as a page and simply put it as a post that I can link back to on my sidebar. So, for everyone who doesn't know how my rating system works or would simply like to see it again:

I rate all my books by "Beasts". So, my favorite books are Beastly! Ha-ha, get it?

Un-Beastly? (Highly unrecommended)

I LOVED IT! yay!

(Definitely Recommended)


Monday, September 13, 2010

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Publication Date: December 1, 2009
hardcover, 563 pages

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she' struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations, But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything. -Summary from Goodreads

Casters. The word is so simple, and it is an original paranormal creature that I have not read or heard about in a paranormal book before. That, on it's own, was a major plus of this book. The introduction was entrancing, starting the story off with dreams. Ethan Wate, a high-school aged boy from Gatlin, South Carolina, starts to have heart-thumping, blood-rushing dreams-or more like nightmares. He dreams that he is falling, tumbling through air, and there is a girl falling with him, screaming for help. But there is nothing he can do, for every time he tries to reach for her all he grabs is air. It is at this part in the dream when he usually wakes up, hot and sweaty. This beginning is quite the introduction, and now I know that there is a special girl out there he will be searching for.
The southern setting is important to the story in a way such that there is quite a bit of the book that has to do with historical references to the civil war, and it also includes a group of women called the Daughters of the Revolution - DAR. Two of the minor antagonists in the story, Emily, Savannah and their mothers as well are part of the club.
Ethan and Lena's meeting is not too cliche, rushed of forced. - Many small sections of the meeting may have seemed fake, such as the thunderstorm and high winds, but I later realized that it was truly not a pathetic attempt at making the "love at first sight" situation more tense than it was. It was just a relation to Lena and her powers, which include the ability to control the weather depending on her emotions.
But now the good, positive review stops here.

Lena is an odd girl. She owns a hearse, which she drives regularly. I would have been more than creeped out if I saw a boy or girl driving a hearse to school. Of course, the loving boyfriend Ethan doesn't seem to mind. However, I find this slightly contradicting because Ethan is a popular, jock-style teenager. Perhaps I am being too confident here, but I know as a fact that popular sporty boys have no interest whatsoever in the dead and deceased, and would immediately judge a girl driving a hearse in a bad way. So, how Ethan doesn't even complain once about the hearse seems all too unrealistic. Also, Ethan is curiously over committed to Lena. He is so obsessed with her that he is completely undevoted to himself and his values he treasured before he met Lena. After the two of them meet, he loses all his friends and he doesn't show the slightest hint that he misses them or would like to be friends with them again. He is so entranced that he even quits the basketball team, along with his potential college scholarship that may have come if he stayed true to the team. There were numerous accounts of the normal, repetitive components of the average teenage/paranormal book:
1)The meeting of the main characters. Of course C1 meets C2 and starts creeping on them. C2 tries to avoid C1 at all costs, and usually refers to calling them bad names and giving them the silent treatment.
2) The beater. Link's- Ethan's best friend- car. Of course, it's the typical old terrible car that always rattles and coughs and wheezes and just barely manages to start the engine. Every teenager in every story seems to have one of those.
3) Link is the classic best friend. Of course, when all of Ethan's other friends ditch him because he starts hanging out with Lena, Link is still there. It's not that I don't appreciate Link for doing that, but why is it always just one friend? And what makes that friend want to stick with Ethan? It is never mentioned in the story.
4) When C1 or C2 realizes that the other is a paranormal, there is chapters and chapters of explanations about their abilities. TMI!!!

The plot itself is not awful. In fact, it is, to say the least, entertaining and mysterious. There is only one main problem. Ethan Wate. Man, do I have a problem with this boy. He is an all around nuisance. He is shallow, lacks description, and is underdeveloped. He has little to no voice, which results in why I do not feel the strong connection between him and Lena. Yes, there is lots of romance, but never can I place myself in their situation and understand their love. Their personalities, thoughts and feelings are almost completely absent. I suppose I slightly understand the decent writing because it is two women writing from the perspective of a teenage boy, but there were most definitely several parts they could have polished or cut out. For example, on page 223:
" I was sure I wanted to kiss her again, but it would have to wait. If Marian had the answers we needed, I'd have a lot more chances to kiss her.
I ran through my playbook again. Pick 'n' Roll."
Tell me thats not tacky. Isn't it just wrong for Ethan, such a charming boy, to think of life and girls as basketball plays? No, I'm sorry, but I don't understand how a Pick 'n' Roll metaphorically would help them find the answers or allow more kissing time.
I wouldn't say Beautiful Creatures was a waste of time, however, I also would not say it is a good use of time either. I do plan on reading Beautiful Darkness when it comes out, but I intend to place it near the bottom of my to-read list.

3.5 Beasts

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blog Hop (4) and Follow Friday! (3)

Book Blogger Hop
Hello there hoppers!
Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books
Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View

This weeks question:
Post a link to a favorite post or book review that you have written in the past three months.

My Answer: Well, first off, It's not really a question. So this is not really an answer, it's more of a response. Anyways, I think that the best book review I've done yet is on the book Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. For all you bloggers that commented on it, thanks so much for the wonderful comments!

For you hoppers and followers out there: Leave me a comment saying you follow me, and I'll follow you back!

Also, be sure to check out my contest!

Monday, September 6, 2010

In My Mailbox (3): September 6, 2010

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, to let bloggers show what books they have accumulated over the past week.

I haven't done an IMM in a while, so some of these books are not books I received this week, but rather several weeks ago. Still, I'm putting them in this post because I did not make an IMM for them the week I got them.

The Things a Brother Knows
We Were Here
Hush, Hush
Summer at Tiffany
A Great and Terrible Beauty

Beautiful Creatures

In My Mailbox

From Random Buzzers (:
The Things A Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt
We Were Here by Matt de la Pena

Won from The Prairie Library:
Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

From the Library:
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Book Blogger Hop! (4) and Follow Friday (3)

Book Blogger Hop
Hey everyone!
Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books
Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View

This weeks question:
Do you judge a book by its cover?

My answer: I will honestly answer this question with a yes. I know that I shouldn't, but sometimes it's just so hard to believe that books with drop-dead gorgeous covers could be bad! And it's also easy for be to believe that a book with an old-looking or dull cover is not that good. Although, in multiple cases, my judgement towards book covers has been proved wrong. For example, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I admit the covers aren't exactly eye-catching, but the books themselves are phenomenal. An example of a book that I think has a fantastic cover yet is repulsive would be... the Twilight series. Sorry to disappoint, all you Twilight lovers out there!

Do you judge a book by it's cover?
Leave a comment! If you tell me that you follow, I'll follow you back!

Have you entered my contest yet?
Angela's 50 Followers/1 Month Blogoversary Giveaway! Ends September 30.