Friday, June 25, 2010

"Touching Spirit Bear" by Ben Mikaelsen

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen is about an angry kid with an alcoholic father named Cole who is abused and beats up a kid named Peter. Cole has to live on an Alaskan island by himself as part of Circle Justice. He changes with some wise help along with this experience on the island. I got into Touching Spirit Bear from the beginning! It's a page turner with a somewhat predictable ending, but a good read!" (GERARD'S REVIEW 8/7/08)

Touching Spirit Bear is an excellent story about Cole, an angry abused boy, who was mad at the world and his personal journey of dealing with his anger and becoming a better person through Circle Justice or Restoration Justice.  He beat up Peter to the point of causing him permanent harm and never took any responsibility for his actions until he faced death and began questioning his life.  This is a story about helping others and how the Circle Justice system works which Native Americans practiced for years. 
The idea is to restore the criminal to become a good citizen and not just punish them.  Instead of jail or a detention center, Cole was banished to live for a year on an island in Alaska alone.  At the end of the year, the Circle Justice group, made up of all those involved, would meet again and determine if he should go to jail or not.  Cole had a traumatic experience while on the island and after just three days was hospitalized after being mauled by a spirit bear.  After his rehabilitation he went back.  Peter tried committing suicide twice and Cole learned much while on the island, including how many mistakes he made and wanted to make things right if he could. 
I really liked Touching Spirit Bear a lot and had trouble putting it down.  I was anxious to see what would happen next.  There is no boring part in it.  There are many themes running through this book such as abuse, justice, survival, anger, forgiveness, healing.

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