Within Cole Matthews lies anger, rage, and hate. Cole has been stealing and fighting for years. This time he caught Peter Driscal in the parking lot and smashed his head against the sidewalk. Now, Peter may have permanent brain damage–and Cole is in the biggest trouble of his life.
Cole receives a one-year banishment to a remote Alaskan island. There, he is mauled by a mysterious white bear of Native American legend. Hideously injured, Cole waits for death. His thoughts shift from anger to humility. To survive, he must stop blaming others and take responsibility for his life. Rescuers arrive to save Cole's body, but it is the attack of the Spirit Bear that may save his soul.Amazon.com Review
Cole Matthews is angry. Angry, defiant, smug--in short, a bully. His anger has taken him too far this time, though. After beating up a ninth-grade classmate to the point of brain damage, Cole is facing a prison sentence. But then a Tlingit Indian parole officer named Garvey enters his life, offering an alternative called Circle Justice, based on Native American traditions, in which victim, offender, and community all work together to find a healing solution. Privately, Cole sneers at the concept, but he's no fool--if it gets him out of prison, he'll do anything. Ultimately, Cole ends up banished for one year to a remote Alaskan island, where his arrogance sets him directly in the path of a mysterious, legendary white bear. Mauled almost to death, Cole awaits his fate and begins the transition from anger to humility.
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 ... Read more
Customer Reviews (307)
Driven by Great Character Development!
Mr. A's 8th grade class read this book and, as a whole, liked the action and pacing of the book. These elements were driven by the fantastic character development of the main character and the detailed imagery. We would definitely be interested in reading about the further exploits of the main characters, should the author decide to continue this story.
Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelson
I enjoyed this book, even though parts of it were very disgusting--I hate mice and I had a hard time reading about him surviving by eating a live mouse, but that didn't stop me from wanting to know what happened next.
Touching Spirit Bear. A teenage story
Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen is a great novel that can be related to any teenager. Mikaelsen creates this rebellious child who refuses to change his ways. In response to his actions he was banished to an island off the coast of Alaska to fix his attitude. Before reading this I actually had heard about a teenager who went through this similar kind of treatment. Hearing about his attitude change made me want to know more about this type of attitude adjustment. Throughout the novel, Cole Matthew's view on life is drastically changed from always needing to prove to others he was correct, to being able to trust and be trusted. The events which Cole must go through in order to repair his attitude are unbelievable. I caught myself during the novel asking, why are you doing this? Just listen and give it a try. The fact that Cole is so close to my age makes it easier to understand the kind of situation he is going through. Mikaelsen makes a real story out of real attitudes and feelings that some teens must face. It is unfortunate, however, that teens must go through this kind of life style. To me I feel the parents should be more to blame than the kids. But on the other side, Cole had no right to be assaulting other kids and being the aggressive kid he was. . Mikaelsen's use of setting makes this story such an enjoyable one to read. Mikaelsen uses Cole's setting against him to further show the pain and struggles he must go through to find himself. Being isolated is only half the battle. With bears, weather and pride against himself, Cole's isolation is far more difficult than he had ever imagined.I highly recommend this book to anyone. This novel shows how lives can be changed for the better with the use of friendship and trust.
Good survival story for young male readers, decent picture of restorative justice principles
I participate in a restorative justice program similar to the one Mikaelsen describes, and I read this book on the recommendation from a fellow volunteer.It is, first and foremost, a novel for young adult readers, so it never claims to be outstanding literature, but it succeeds as an exploration of personal growth and development that can (hopefully) occur for participants in restorative/circle justice groups.Essentially, the story follows an angry young man as he commits a violent crime and then engages in a dialogue designed to restore the community and reveal his connections to those around him.The morality is a bit heavy-handed (one character, Edwin, never speaks except to dispense his traditional Native American views and occasionally offer hints as to a troubled past), but it is presented with honesty and respect, and I recommend the book to volunteers and potential volunteers.I was personally a bit uncomfortable with the Circle of Life spirituality presented, as it is not entirely consistent with Biblical Christianity (even if all creation is connected in a circle that demands respect, God is sovereign over that circle and not somehow just a part of it), but the basic messages about love and forgiveness and respect and healing are quite beautiful and can easily be related to a more Biblical analysis of the protagonist's situation and his needs.
Also, as a simple survival adventure story, this book draws favorable comparisons to the classic Hatchet, so I recommend this book even for adolescents who will skip the emotional struggles and focus on the storms and the mauling and the shelter-building and bug-eating.
Touching Spirit Bear Book Review
I read Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen and I loved it.
The book is about a teenager named Cole Mathews who has anger issues that lead him to commit many crimes wihtin the city of Minneapolis.He decided to brag about his latest crime and then a classmate turned him in.Cole denied everything and then beat up the kid who turned him in, a boy named Peter Driscal.Cole applied for Circle Justice afterward, a system of justice that promotes forgivness instead of punishment.Cole failed and was banished to a remote Alaskan island where the real story begins.At the begining of Cole's banishment, he burned down the hut Garvey and Edwin made and failed at escaping.He then provoked and was mauled by a Spirit Bear he saw repeatedly before that.After returning to the island from a hospital, he was able to heal inside and decided to try to help Peter heal.Peter came and was showing no kindness to Cole for most of the time.But finaly at the end, when they both saw the spirit bear, they became friends.
This book sadly has little to no examples of simile or metaphor in it.
The book has lots of imagery though, and I can give a few examples.One says:"Cole's stomach churned and cramped harder".Another says:"Cole squirted on a glop of ketchup and then devoured his hot dog.
The characterization in this book is rich.For example, Cole goes from a violent, rough, delinquent to a gentle, thoughtful boy.
The plot can get a little twisted with all the flashbacks and areas of description that goes so deep that you forget whats happening.
The book's flashbacks are exeptable since they provide good back story, insight, and answers to questions.
The book uses personification on the animals, and sometimes the environment and it makes things interesting.Like when Cole has to explain his animal dances and it is used astoundingly.
The dialogue is filled with powerful sayings and language.
I loved this book in the end.
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