Suzette Kunz's Reviews > Touching Spirit Bear

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
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's review
Jun 14, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult

Cole Matthews is a 16-year-old about to go to jail for beating a kid nearly to death. His probation officer suggests Circle Justice instead of prison. This is a Native American approach that focuses on healing the offender. As part of this process Cole is taken to a deserted island in Alaska, where he will spend a year alone. He will be monitored by a native man who will also bring him supplies.

The first time around, Cole is so angry he burns up his supplies and tries to swim to a nearby island. He nearly drowns from the effort and then nearly freezes to death without shelter. Finally he is mauled by a bear. I'll just leave it at that. Luckily, he gets another chance to visit the island.

I really liked the journey of healing that Cole took. It made me wonder what I would learn about myself living for a year on an island. The writing style really feels like it is for younger kids. SOmetimes complex emotions are explained in a rather simplistic way. I also didn't find his dialogue very believable.

In spite of that, I really liked the book.

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