Monday, November 28, 2011

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

From goodreads: Within Cole Matthews lie anger, rage and hate. Cole has been stealing and fighting for years. Now he is charged with physically assaulting a classmate. Cole is offered Circle Justice: a system based on Native American traditions that attempts to provide healing for the criminal offender, the victim and the community. Cole receives a one-year banishment to a remote Alaskan island. Ben Mikaelsen paints a vivid picture of a juvenile offender, examining the roots without absolving him of responsibility for his actions, and questioning a society in which angry people make victims of their peers and communities. Touching Spirit Bear is a poignant testimonial to the power and pain that can destroy, or lead to healing.

This is the story of a struggle of a young teenager trying to survive, who inevitably comes across spiritual reform at the same time. I was astounded at the anger Cole had boiled up inside, and felt sympathy for him and the way he was brought up. I loved the concept of Circle Justice. I liked how Circle Justice focuses on healing not only the offender, but the victim and community as well. I thought that was the perfect solution for Cole. I loved that he eventually learned that: “...he had to quit blaming others, including his father, for his problems. As long as blame still existed, so would his anger. He had to let go.” I also loved the quote, "a person is never done being mad. Anger is a memory never forgotten. You only tame it.” I thought this book ended too soon. I felt that there were several loose ends. I wanted to see more of Peter’s healing, and Cole’s transition back into society. But, I enjoyed the story and will be buying this book to share with my children. Winner of Flicker Tale Children's Book Award (2002) and Sunshine State Young Readers Award 2003), and nominee of Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award (2004), this story will both shock and inspire you. I think everyone can take something away from this story.

Rating 4
Age 12+
Published: 1.2005
Content: some violence

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