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Touching Spirit Bear

Review

Touching Spirit Bear

Everything in life is a circle. Fifteen-year-old Cole gets beaten by his father, just as Cole's father was beaten by his father. And now Cole himself is turning violent. In a fit of rage, he pummels his classmate Peter so badly that doctors question whether he will ever be the same again. Instead of feeling remorse and fearing the consequences of his actions, Cole blames everyone around him for the incident—his parents for being alcoholics who don’t care about him, and Peter for tattling on him in the first place.

When Cole is offered the chance to take responsibility for his behavior and heal himself and the community through Native American Circle Justice, he grabs it, but for all the wrong reasons. While Cole cons everyone who is trying to help him into believing that he sincerely wants to change, he fully intends to escape their brand of justice, and to continue being in control of his own life.

As he attempts to run away from the island in Alaska where he is banished, Cole continues to blame everyone but himself for the situation he is facing. He even blames the huge white bear for the attack which almost kills him—the bear should have run away. But it is this brush with death that ultimately saves Cole from himself. On his journey he learns to deal with his anger, to respect nature, and to take responsibility for his actions. Each action he takes has an impact on the world…Everything in life is a circle.

This book is a fascinating look at a young boy’s journey from self-destructive anger to forgiveness. Indeed, he changes so dramatically throughout the book that it is hard to believe that the Cole who leaves the island is the same boy who was so incredibly angry at the start of the book. Mikaelson also gives us a wonderful glance into Native American wisdom, especially the idea that everything in life is connected. There are many lessons within the covers of this book, but it is the story that will captivate readers.

Reviewed by Betsy Pabrinkis on January 9, 2001

Touching Spirit Bear
by Ben Mikaelsen

  • Publication Date: January 9, 2001
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0380977443
  • ISBN-13: 9780380977444