Life and Death in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

What up, nerds? I am taking a little break from recapping the book series I am covering from the 1990s and early 2000s and am bringing you Shadyside’s first feature. Exciting, right? Before I get into it, though, I want to explain what a Shadyside Feature is. Unlike my recaps (Check out any entry here on Goosebumps or Fear Street) in which I attempt to write about anything and everything I have to say about a book, and unlike a review in which I focus primarily on my opinions on a book and if I would or would not recommend that book to others, a feature covers an aspect of a book I want to look into deeper. I might write about a recurring theme, a character’s development, or why a book should or should not be challenged by schools. Also, unlike my recaps and reviews, you may see me post more than one feature about a book. With features, I either do not have the time or energy to cover everything I want to write about a book, or I have so much to say about one aspect of a book that it warrants its own entry. For this book, the case is very much the latter.

I mentioned I might write about why a book should or should not be challenged by schools, and that is a great segue into the novel I am writing about in this entry, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. This book is heavily challenged in schools all across the United States for a multitude of reasons. No, I am not going to write about why this book should or should not be challenged (at least not in this entry). I want to focus on a plot device — a motif that I think helps push the novel ahead: death. Before I jump into that, however, I want to first, warn you that spoilers for this book are littered throughout the entry right after the plot summary, and second, give you that plot summary, an introduction to the book.

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Goosebumps: It Came From Beneath the Sink!

This is a book in the series that I didn’t actually read as a kid. I remember my friend Steven bought it on a trip to Wal-Mart, and I picked up Megamorphs #2: In the Time of Dinosaurs because I had moved past Goosebumps and was really into Animorphs at the time. I had always wanted to read this book, though. I’m glad I got the chance, but I don’t feel like little-kid me missed out on much.

The book is essentially about an evil sponge that causes, or at least feeds on the bad luck of its owner. While it has an interesting concept, and the writing is actually pretty decent, I don’t think this book was executed very well. I’ll get into why in Analysis. First, let’s look at this awesome cover.

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Goosebumps: Chicken Chicken

This, my fifteenth Goosebumps entry (Dang, I’ve been slow covering this series), is dedicated to my boy Michael at the Goosebumps Fandom. Chicken Chicken is his favorite book in the series, and I told him I would cover it next. 

What is interesting is the general consensus would probably consider this the worst Goosebumps book in the original series. I have read and seen a lot of flack for it. It is flack I understand, because I, personally, do not have fond memories of reading it as a kid, and to be honest, I was actually kind of dreading reading it as an adult before I started it last night. Reading it as an adult, however, I have to say, Chicken Chicken is not altogether bad. The Barking Ghost is easily worse than this book. I think the issue with this entry in the series is there is so much in it to not like. I’m being confusing, I know. I’ll get into it further in Analysis.

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Goosebumps: Say Cheese and Die!

Say Cheese and Die!When I was in fifth grade, I was visiting my mom for a weekend, and she surprised my brother Kenny and me with a Goosebumps book each: she gave me The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight and gave him Say Cheese and Die! I was a little jealous, because he had the better book (as I immediately decided after looking at the two covers). That was my introduction to Goosebumps. I ended up with both books because my brother did not (and still does not to this day) like to read, and I begged her to buy me more entries in the series over the next couple of years. The rest is history. I was in love with R. L. Stine.

Reading the book yesterday, I have to say my 10-year-old self was right. My brother did get the better book. Say Cheese and Die! is one of the better entries in the series. Despite having a seemingly simple concept, the book is interesting, suspenseful, in-depth, and fun.

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Welcome to Shadyside!

In an effort to clean up my online presence, I have decided to make a blog specifically for book reviews. I had attempted to run a blog that tried to be everything, and several things happened:

  1.  The clutter and disorganization annoyed the crap out of me.
  2.  I found myself blogging primarily book reviews.
  3.  I missed the fan site work my blog replaced. I have something in the works to bring that element back. I’m going to have two main sites online: this and that, and I’ll let you guys know when I launch that other site. 

And so, I decided to do an official relaunch with a new name and a new look to emphasize the new focus. Welcome to Shadyside. 

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