Friday, June 27, 2008

Flight by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie really knows how to begin a book for teens. As with The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Alexie begins this book with a bang. The voice of the main character invites the reader to call him Zits. Immediately, every teen can identify with this person, and his struggles to accept himself even while hating that part of himself. Zits then goes on to give a description of his transitory lifestyle, one that takes him from foster home to foster home. By the end of the first chapter he has again gotten himself kicked out of another home and the cops are chasing him.
Alexie is an expert at capturing the impulsiveness of teenagers, that characteristic that makes adults think, "Why in the world would you do something like that?" Zits is the embodiment of this, never seeming to consider the consequences of his actions. These actions lead him to entering a bank with two guns - one a paint gun, one a real pistol - at which point he begins to experience an unreal time distortion. Through his time traveling experiences, Zits must learn to consider consequences, think through whether or not he actually wants to use the guns that are in his pockets.
While Flight enters the realm of science fiction with its time travel aspect, it still belongs squarely in regular fiction. Zits' travels are really just a way for him to become exposed to a world beyond his experience, where being entirely self-centered is not an option. This is a fantastic book for teens, readers and non-readers alike, easy and quick to read, while at the same time dealing with very difficult subjects.

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