I looked up the word “grief”

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That was on p. 172.
grief n. When you feel so helpless and stupid that you think nothing will ever be right again, and your macaroni and cheese tastes like sawdust, and you can’t even jerk off because it seems too much trouble.

Just finished reading this pretty cool book. I sought out the book mainly because I came across it on a banned/challenged books discussion. It is a human trait to seek things that are not allowed, is it not? For whatever reason, I read the book and I am glad. Pretty simple book. Life of a 14-year-old cannot be too complicated, neither melodramatic, isn’t it? Let’s just say we adults make life more complicated than it is. But maybe life is complicated and melodramatic for all.

The story of the 14-year old Arnold Spirit Jr (Junior in short) is humbling and down to earth. Racism does exist even now. Apartheid is still here. Just take a look at what’s happening in Gaza. But that’s another story.

Right here, right now, I want to talk about Junior, & the book written by Alexie Sherman titled “the absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian.”

part-time-indian2

The book is banned/challenged because of its honesty, I think. Honesty that is very real to many walking the earth. There maybe those children who are pampered and protected from drunks, swearers, bullies,  abusers, you name it. But Junior isn’t among those pampered. He is among those who persevere against odds.

The story is beautifully written. Pretty simple and yet have depth. I enjoyed many lines but can’t reproduce the best of the lines as I didn’t keep a note of it. I just wanted to read it all quickly. Here I’m just flipping through the book trying to find lines that I should share. It’s for me as much as is for you. I do like treasuring words.

It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you’re poor because you’re stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you’re stupid and ugly because you’re India. And because you’re Indian you start believing you’re destined to be poor. It’s an ugly circle and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor.

….

I’d never seen a sober adult cry.
“But not you,” Mr P said. “You can’t give up. You won’t give up. You threw that book in my face because somewhere inside you refuse to give up.”
I didn’t know what he was talking about. Or maybe I just didn’t want to know.
Jeez, it was a lot of pressure to put on a kid. I was carrying the burden of my race, you know? I was going to get a bad back from it.

….

“Can you just give it to him?” I asked.
“Yea, I’ll give to him. Even if it’s a little gay.”
I wanted to cuss at him. I wanted to tell that I thought I was being courageous, and that I was trying to fix my broken friendship with Rowdy, and that I missed him, and if that was gay, then okay, I was the gayest dude in the world. But I didn’t say any of that.

I like the way the authors talks to the reader:

I just walked from class alone; I sat at lunch alone; during PE I stood in the corner of the gym and played catch with myself. Just tossed a basketball up and own, up and down, up and down.
And I know you’re thinking, “Okay, Mr. Sad Sack, how many ways are you going to tell us how depressed you were?”
And okay, maybe I’m overstating my case. Maybe I’m exaggerating. So let me tell you a few good things…

And how he describes the world around him in the mindframe of a teenage boy:

She was wearing a white shirt and white shorts, and I could see the outlines of her white bra and white panties.
Her skin was pale white. Milky white. Cloud white.
So she was all white on white, like the most perfect kind of vanilla dessert cake you’ve ever seen.
I wanted to be her chocolate pudding.

She tracked the ball with her blue eyes. Just watched it intensely. Like that volleyball mattered more than anything else in the world. I got jealous of that ball. I wished I were that ball.

“Hey, Rowdy,” I wrote. “I’m in love with a white girl. What should I do?”

I should stop doing this. Or else I’ll be re-reading the book all over again. Yes! I would like to read it again. But No! I don’t have the time for that. So I stop. Anyone interested in the book, will just have to find a copy and read for yourself. In addition to the words, the book is dotted with artwork. cheesy artwork.

part-time-indian

Now, let’s just talk briefly about the controversy behind the banning of the book. There are some words and some things one would want to protect their children from as much as possible. I am not any different. I would not want my 10-year-old to read this book. It’s readable even for a 10-year old. But the language and openness is to be considered. But sure! my 14-year-old – yes by all means should read the book. We all share this world and should know what happens elsewhere even if we live a cocooned life compared to many others.

The book should be read.

It talks about friendship, sacrifice, perseverance, love, angst, hunger, loneliness, depression. Not only Junior, but the story of Mary is also one to reckon with; so is grandma’s, Rowdy’s and even junior’s parents’.