by Sherman Alexie
Especially read this if you’re writing:
A YA Novel
A Book with Pictures
About cultural identity
In First Person
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian immediately struck me because of the strong 1st person narrative voice. This is an example of remarkable story-telling from a specific POV– a teen boy who is acutely observant, self-aware, confident, and hilarious. It’s conversational, easy-going and, because of that, resonates as strikingly realistic and unique. No other person could tell you this story and no other story could tell you about this person. Let’s face it. That’s hard to do. That is REALLY hard to do. A strong narrative voice can make or break any novel, 1st person or not.
Voice is so important and this novel does it well. Simple as that. But, I know it’s not as simple as that. And part of my goal is to become a more active reader and discover why it’s not as simple as that.
I concluded that the voice is so remarkable because it feels like dialogue, but it’s not dialogue. It has it’s ‘well‘s and ‘okay‘s and ‘Jeez‘es and that makes it feel like the narrator is speaking to the reader. It’s intimate. It’s friendly. There’s no talking up or down. It’s story-telling. It’s straight. It’s humble. It’s one to one. The reader becomes a peer. An equal. It makes readers feel that whether they are sitting in their chair reading or standing inside of the novel, they are right there with the action. It’s one and the same.
This style doesn’t work for everyone, but I know that it can be helpful. If the narrator of my novel was sitting next to me with a cup of tea, she would tell me her story in a very different way than she might be right now. I’d like for her to sit down and tell me, one-to-one, the real deal. Well, okay. Jeez, Melissa. So…this is how it happened… 😉
Thank you Sherman Alexie for creating (among so many other things) a remarkable voice. Which is so key to a successful story.