I was looking for a read-aloud book for my Self-Identity unit in the fall, and really, I don't have to look any farther than The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I read this novel on recommendation from one of my buddies who read it in a class a couple of semesters ago. I didn't have time to read it then, so I knocked it out yesterday.
The novel is told in first person by a Spokane Indian, Arnold Spirit, Jr. Arnold decides that he is going to go to the white school about 22 miles up the road rather than continue to attend the school on the reservation. He is the only Indian at the school, and is the recipient of some animosity because they don't know what to expect from him. He has some troubles getting to school, which he cartoons about, his best friend hates him for leaving the reservation, people close to him die, and he joins the basketball team.
I could identify with Junior in that his peers called him an apple--red on the outside, white on the inside--because if an Indian wants to make something of him/herself, he says, then they're considered white. When I was a kid, my cousins called me oreo, black on the outside white on the inside.
The novel discusses how difficult it is to fit in, especially when what you want is outside the norm.
I'm excited to say that this title is soon to be on the shelf in my school library.
Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little Brown, 2007.