The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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Adolescents experience a developmental journey as they transition from child to adult, and in doing so are faced with many developmental milestones. Physical, cognitive, social and emotional changes are occurring during this tumultuous stage of life, and making sense of one’s self and identity becomes a priority. Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian addresses the challenges of adolescence in an engaging tale, but deals with minority communities and cultures as well. Establishing an identity has been called one of the most important milestones of adolescent development (Ruffin, 2009). Additionally, a central part of identity development includes ethnic identity (ACT for Youth, 2002). While some teens search for cultural identity within a smaller community, others are trying to find their place in the majority culture. (Bucher and Hinton, 2010)The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian chronicles Junior’s journey to discovery of self. As with many developing teens, he finds himself spanning multiple identities and trying to figure out where he belongs. “Traveling between Reardan and Wellpinit, between the little white town and the reservation, I always felt like a stranger. I was half Indian in one place and half white in the other” (p.118). On the reservation, he was shunned for leaving to go to a white school. At Reardon, the only other Indian was the school mascot, leaving Junior to question his decision to attend school he felt he didn’t deserve. Teens grappling with bicultural identities can relate to Junior’s questions of belonging. Not only is Junior dealing with the struggle between white vs. Indian identities, but with smaller peer group identities as well. In Wellpinit, Junior is th... ... middle of paper ... ...e level.” Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, v. 39, no. 6 (March 1996): 436-445. [E Journal] Fegar, Mary-Virginia. “I Want to Read: How Culturally Relevant Texts Increase Student Engagement in Reading.” Multicultural Education, 13:3 (Spring 2006): 18-19. [E Journal] Nilson, Allen Pace & Kenneth L. Donelson. “Stages of Literary Appreciation” in Literature for Today’s Young Adults. Longman, 2001: pp. 35-42. [PDF in Blackboard] Ruffin, Novella. Adolescent Growth and Development. Virginia Cooperative Extension, 2009. http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/350/350-850/350-850.html The Search Institute. The 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents. 2010. http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18 Steinberg, Laurence & Morris, Amanda Sheffield. “Adolescent Development.” Annual Review of Psychology, (Annual 2001): 83-110. [E Journal]
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