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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

book cover image for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Author Sherman Alexie
Illustrator Ellen Forney

Book type: Illustrated Young Adult 12+

Where it is banned:

Sherman Alexie’s young adult describes the experiences of Junior, who leaves the school on the Spokane Indian reservation where he lives to attend an all-white high school. The book is highly illustrated with comic strips and spot illustration by cartoonist Ellen Forney. The book was critically acclaimed when it was published in 2007 and received numerous awards, including the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. However, the book also garnered a lot of opposition for its honest portrayal of difficult subjects, such as alcoholism, masturbation, and racism. From 2010 to 2019, it was the most challenged book in the United States, and has since remained among the top ten most banned books.

Illustrator Ellen Forney is no stranger to difficult subject matter. She is also a published author, and written and illustrated two graphic novels dealing with mental illness: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir andRock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life (both published by Fantagraphics). She speaks frequently on the topic of mental illness and self-care, drawing on her personal experience of dealing with bipolar disorder. In fact, her Ted talk, Finding balance in bipolar, has over 400,000 view.

More Information

Finding Balance in Bipolar
Ellen Forney’s TED Talk

Alexie, Evison, Hopkins Speak Up in Defense of Banned Books
Publishers Weekly (video embed of Authors Guild panel discussion on banned books)