Common Read reveals friends are family

Kelsey Lentz


Many students on campus were required to purchase the book, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. For me, Alexie’s book got pushed to the side by the calculus, biology and other larger textbooks I was obligated to buy. Eventually, I did open it up after overhearing many people talk about how quickly they got through the novel and also how enjoyable it was for them.

In case you have also forgotten you even purchased the book, it begins by introducing the main character, Junior. He goes on to talk about all of the problems he has encountered throughout his whole life. He’s poor, has medical conditions and lives a life in which alcohol causes most of his daily problems. Nothing in life is going his direction, and he doesn’t know what to do. After telling us how important his best friend is to him, he asks, “Can your best friend be more important than your family?”

Usually I’m not into philosophy, but this question got me thinking. What is the difference between friends and family? We all have biological family, but biological friends don’t exist—or do they? A biological brother or sister is considered a “sibling” and not a “friend,” even though they could be very good friends with you. Though I don’t consider my family to be my friends, sometimes I consider my best friends to be part of my family.

I also began to think about if it is possible for friends to turn into family and vice versa. At freshman convocation this year, they announced that we could be sitting in the same stadium as our future spouse. This is probably true on many accounts, considering there were more than two thousand freshmen in attendance. A couple would have to meet and become friends before they could become family through marriage. Therefore, they are friends before they are family—but once they are a family, they are always a family.

Unfortunately, many people can understand what Junior is going through. Nobody’s life is perfect, especially not Junior’s. For those who struggle with relationships at home, yes, a best friend can be the most supportive person in their life. In Junior’s case, his best friend Rowdy is the only person he has that understands him. He also protects Junior from violence on the reservation. Junior’s response to his own question reads, “I think so. I think Rowdy is the most important person in my life.”

The common read this semester has turned out to be a very enjoyable book, for me anyway. It is a quick read and also very humorous. Beneath these waters, however, we can swim even deeper into the meaning of the statements Junior proclaims. Everybody lives different lives and experiences different things; therefore, we all interpret things differently. Pick up the book and read it – see where your mind goes.


Kelsey Lentz is a freshman majoring in pre-pharmacy. She can be emailed at [email protected].