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Description - Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

In his Napra Nautilus Award-winning novel Touching Spirit Bear , author Ben Mikaelson delivers a poignant coming-of-age story of a boy who must overcome the effects that violence has had on his life.After severely injuring Peter Driscal in an empty parking lot, mischief-maker Cole Matthews is in major trouble. But instead of jail time, Cole is given another option: attend Circle Justice, an alternative program that sends juvenile offenders to a remote Alaskan Island to focus on changing their ways. Desperate to avoid prison, Cole fakes humility and agrees to go.While there, Cole is mauled by a mysterious white bear and left for dead. Thoughts of his abusive parents, helpless Peter, and his own anger cause him to examine his actions and seek redemption--from the spirit bear that attacked him, from his victims, and from himself.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780380977444
ISBN-10: 0380977443
Format: Hardback
(217mm x 147mm x 23mm)
Pages: 258
Imprint: HarperCollins Children's Books
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc
Publish Date: 3-Jan-2002
Country of Publication: United States

Book Reviews - Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

US Kirkus Review » Troubled teen meets totemic catalyst in Mikaelsen's ("Petey", 1998, etc.) earnest tribute to Native American spirituality. Fifteen-year-old Cole is cocky, embittered, and eaten up by anger at his abusive parents. After repeated skirmishes with the law, he finally faces jail time when he viciously beats a classmate. Cole's parole officer offers him an alternative - Circle Justice, an innovative justice program based on Native traditions. Sentenced to a year on an uninhabited Arctic island under the supervision of Edwin, a Tlingit elder, Cole provokes an attack from a titanic white "Spirit Bear" while attempting escape. Although permanently crippled by the near-death experience, he is somehow allowed yet another stint on the island. Through Edwin's patient tutoring, Cole gradually masters his rage, but realizes that he needs to help his former victims to complete his own healing. Mikaelsen paints a realistic portrait of an unlikable young punk, and if Cole's turnaround is dramatic, it is also convincingly painful and slow. Alas, the rest of the characters are cardboard caricatures: the brutal, drunk father, the compassionate, perceptive parole officer, and the stoic and cryptic Native mentor. Much of the plot stretches credulity, from Cole's survival to his repeated chances at rehabilitation to his victim being permitted to share his exile. Nonetheless, teens drawn by the brutality of Cole's adventures, and piqued by Mikaelsen's rather muscular mysticism, might absorb valuable lessons on anger management and personal responsibility. As melodramatic and well-meaning as the teens it targets. "(Fiction. YA)". (Kirkus Reviews)


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