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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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Ben Mikaelsen's depiction of a juvenile delinquent's metamorphosis into a caring, thinking individual is exciting and fascinating, if at times heavy-handed. Cole's nastiness and the vivid depictions of the lengths he must go to survive after the (equally vivid) attack by the bear are excruciating at times, but the concept of finding a way to heal a whole community when one individual wrongs another is compelling. The jacket cover photo of the author in a bear hug with the 700-pound black bear that he and his wife adopted and raised is definitely worth seeing! (Ages 12 and older) --Emilie Coulter
Whatever you do to the animals, you do to yourself. Remember that.
At fifteen, Cole Matthews has been fighting and stealing for years. The punishment for smashing Peter Driscal's skull into the sidewalk—his most recent crime—is harsh. This time, Cole will have to choose between prison and Native American Circle Justice. He will live either behind bars or in isolation for one year.
Cole chooses Circle Justice. But in the first days of his banishment to a remote Alaskan island, he is mauled by a mysterious white bear and nearly dies. Will the attack of the spirit bear destroy Cole's life or save his soul?
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