Touching Spirit Bear
by Pallav Regmi, age 13
The book, Touching Spirit Bear, is about a 15-year-old boy named Cole living in Minneapolis. All his life, he commits crimes because his dad beats him and his mother ignores him, making him feel unwanted and alone. When Cole robs a hardware store, Peter Driscall, a classmate, reports him. Seeking vengeance, Cole smashes Peter’s head onto the sidewalk.
As an adult, Cole would have been sentenced to a year in jail, but his parole officer, Garvey, has an alternative option. Garvey talks to Cole about Circle Justice, an American Indian form of healing that helps the perpetrator and the victim to forgive and help each other.
Garvey knows about Circle Justice because he is a Tlingit American Indian. Circle Justice only works if both the victim and the perpetrator are willing to work together. Cole is willing to do anything to get out of jail, so he lies to Garvey about wanting to change. After three weeks of regular Circle Justice, an agreement is made to send Cole to an uninhabited island in northern British Colombia.
Garvey and an American Indian elder named Edwin take Cole to the island. Edwin talks to Cole about the Spirit Bear, a rare black bear that has pure white fur. Cole thinks that the spirit bear must be a weak and worthless animal, and says he will kill it if he ever sees it.
After Garvey and Edwin leave, Cole tries to escape from the island. He fails each time, but during one attempt, he sees the spirit bear. He attacks the bear but ends up getting mauled. After losing his fight with the bear, and while slowly healing, Cole seems to change. He is sent back to the island for a second chance, but did he actually change? And what happened to Peter? Read and find out.
I would recommend this book to anyone currently attending middle school or high school. Cole’s experience taught me that for every action, there is a consequence. The writing was not too wordy or dry, but perfect for middle school readers. This book is great for anyone with a taste for action.
The next time you visit your local library, check out Touching Spirit Bear. It is a good read.