Lindsay's Reviews > Flight

Flight by Sherman Alexie
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Feb 26, 2008

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Read in March, 2008

Sherman Alexie's Flight is often beautiful and usually poignant. However, any novel written through the point of view of a 15-year-old boy can run the risk of annoying readers, especially if the character is written well (e.g., Holden Caulfield).

Alexie's narrator, a teenage orphan called "Zits," is written rather well. Losing his Indian father to homelessness and his Irish mother to cancer, chronic foster-child Zits is understandably angry. Like many angry teenage boys, "Zits" is vulnerable, blindly attracted to the wrong role models and tempted to violence. At the crucial moment in this temptation, Zits is transported through time to other scenes of violent temptation—an AIM standoff, the Battle of Little Bighorn, a raid on a nineteenth-century Indian camp, to name a few. Through these vivid travels, be they literal or figurative, Zits comes to understand the folly of vengeance.

Throughout the early part of the novel (set in contemporary times), Zits name-drops bands and spits up slang like any teenager. While I was annoyed by this side of Zits, I had to admit that his authenticity made him that way.

During and after his flight through history, Zits voice becomes balanced by the scenes he witnesses. As he physically and mentally inhabits the bodies of others affected by violence—victims, perpetrators, and bystanders of varying degrees of innocence—Zits forms a sense of empathy comparable to the reader's. We witness the horror of these events along with Zits, bonding to him as he bonds to his bodily hosts.

The one complaint I have, is that Zits' language often belabors the point Alexie is making about violence and vengeance. The historic events, as well as Zits' visceral reactions to them, show us enough on their own; we do not need the teenager to state the obvious at the end of every chapter. Then again, maybe he's not doing it for us.
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message 1: by Ed (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ed I'm really interested to see how you like this. Have you read any of his other stuff? I have noticed that you've recently gone on a Nat-Am binge with all that Erdrich. Anyway I've never heard of this one but if it's good I would totally read it so let me know. I really like 'Reservation Blues' and 'The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,' for what that's worth.

Lindsay Read it. The others are probably better, as they were (as far as I know) written for adults. . . but there's definitely some good stuff here, and I'd give it a shot if I were you.

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