The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie tells the story of a teenage boy going to school off of the reservation where he lives for the first time. Written in a brutally honest voice, Alexie narrates his own experiences with bullying, racism, alcoholism, sexuality, and death. Written through the point of view of a teenager, the book is very readable for a middle school aged child, but the mature content of the book makes it appropriate for adults as well.
In the same way that Brown Girl Dreaming and Maus tackle difficult issues in very accessible language, The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian manages to create a text that crosses age boundaries. Books that both adults and children can learn from and gain an experience out of. The writing style and content has blurred the line between adult and children’s reading materials. Some many argue that despite a child’s ability to read the text, it may be inappropriate for them due to the graphic content. These books do deal with serious topics, but many children encounter issues that are just as serious in their own lives. Violence, racism, alcoholism, death in the family, are all experienced by thousands of children and these stories remind them that they are not alone. They can also teach empathy to children who have not been through these situations but may know someone who has.
Each age group has something to gain from these books that grow with you. A child may better relate to the experience of dealing with a difficult problem or be able to really understand the character’s ways of thinking, even if they do not fully understand everything that happens in the book. As an adult, they can read the same text and pick up on the more subtle subjects, but they may have lost the ability to really relate to the character’s point of view. These books are true classics that can build shared experiences between all different age groups.