4.30.2008

Reading Life 31


Flight by Sherman Alexie


One reviewer compares Alexie's "anger" to that of James Baldwin, and though I get where this reviewer might be coming from I really don't because I don't read this novel as a manefestation of Alexie's anger but that of the main character, Zits. And though Alexie often writes autobiographically and from a place of experience (so I can assume that there is a piece (large or small, whichever) Alexie in this 15-year-old near mass-murderer who travels through time and is a body changer of sorts), in this case, I feel, this is not a book of anger but a story of hope. Near the end of the book, Zits is taken into yet another foster home, but this time the foster-father doesn't sit across the breakfast table reading the paper but actually looks at the boy, speaks to him. His foster-mother sets out the boy's schedule for the boy and promises to pick him up from school at 2:45, and the boy is thrown off by her statement: will you really be there? he wants to know. She promises that she will, looks him in the eye, as a matter of fact, leans her face a mere few inches from his even, and says her word is solid. The boy thinks, "Promise. What a good word. What a hopeful word." His reaction to her "I promise"?: "'Whatever,' I say, because it hurts to have hope." And so as violent and as angry this boy might be in all of his lives, throughout time and history, the novel is about a boy who wants to be loved, to be hugged like the last time his own mother hugged him before her passing. A wonderful work.

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