Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Touching Spirit Bear is one of those books that you pick up in the early afternoon because you don't have anything else to do, but then you get so lost in the plot that you can't go to sleep until 1 a.m., when you've read it cover to cover. It had been way too long since I had read another book like that.
This book was already one that I was going to have to read for a class, but since the reading is at our own pace, I decided to get a head-start. At first, the title bothered me. This story was going to be deep, I could tell that, so my first thought was- BORING! But first impressions are usually incorrect, and it wasn't long into the story that I realized that was the case. As you can tell from the synopsis, the story is about a juvenile delinquent, who was forced to choose between jail and time on an Alaskan island. He chooses the island, but gets way more than he bargained for, with a bear encounter he will remember forever. Whenever the main character of a story has some spunk,you're in for an interesting, and quite humorous story. Humor between Cole, his parole officer Garvey,and the Tinglit Indian, Edwin, keeps the story light enough through all of the heavy themes discussed. I found myself laughing out loud at times.
At the beginning of the story, Cole is stubborn, and thinks his manipulating people is the only way for him to keep power. Throughout the book, however, though the Indian rituals that he used to mock, he learns things like how false that power really is. If you're looking for an example of a dynamic character, Cole definitely fits the bill. I won't say how, but by the end of the story, you can definitely tell a difference.
This book is very gruesome at times. Keep in mind that Cole gets mauled by a bear and is taking desperate measures to stay alive. But I don't think that this is anything that even, say, a ten year old couldn't handle, so don't let it stop you from reading it! It doesn't take away from the story at all, and if anything it supports how Cole is feeling. If this doesn't make any since now, just trust me. It will when you read the book.
I will be honest and say that as a teenager, this year I have found very few books that I would spend my whole day reading, and have trouble putting down. Most were a chore to read at times, and I would gladly take the end of a chapter as an opportunity to take a break from it for a while. With this book, I would see that I was on chapter 9, then next thing I know I'm starting chapter 17! And these were pretty reasonably-sized chapters.
Coming out of reading this book, I can definitely say it was a feel-good one. Though there were many trails Cole had to face, you find yourself proud of what he accomplishes, and wonder if the island could do anything in your life. It's one of those books that you have a hard time imagining viewing the world the same way afterwards. I am so glad I was required to read Touching Spirit Bear, because I'm almost positive I wouldn't have picked it up otherwise. It's one of those books that you just wish you could show everyone. I didn't know how much I needed one of those books until I read it. And I'm so glad I did.
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