Zits is a young Indian foster boy who has already labeled himself as just another stereotypical statistic well on his way to becoming a homeless, drunk delinquent, which is exactly how he thinks the world already views him. What happens when he dons 2 guns and a trench coat? Is his anger beyond help, or will he start to make good choices for himself and others? Will he find the family he’s been missing for all his life?
Genre: YA/Magical Realism
Release Date: April 2007
Source: BookCon2016 – Bought
On My Shelf: Yes
I met Sherman Alexie this last summer at BookCon2016, and he was just as pleasant as I thought he’d be. I purchased his book Flight there to have him sign it for me. I was excited to read more of his work, as I’ve only read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which I liked very much.
I finally got around to reading Flight, and I have to say that I really liked it. This was an easy yet hard read and turned out to be wonderfully complex. Not that I had any doubts Alexie wouldn’t wow me.
A few people had told me this was a strange book that didn’t really come together until the end. I, however, have to say that I highly enjoyed this journey and the way in which the plot unfolded and the points were made. This story employs magical realism, and it’s executed beyond well. Many of you probably already know that this is a genre I love reading. So, when I first realized it was the direction the book was taking, I got really excited. This is a tough genre to write in and then even harder to sell as it can be more difficult for the audience to grasp and understand. (I’m not criticizing any of you lovely readers. I’m saying this from experience. It took me quite a while to warm up to this genre.) But, I think Alexie hit the nail on the head with this one.
What makes magical realism so hard is that the stories have to rely heavily on character development and drive to move the story forward as the plot execution is always a bit more abstract and all over the place until things culminate and make sense only in the end to reveal some sort of revelation that the reader, characters, or both experience. This story is no different, which is why it’s important that our MC is well-developed, dimensional, and, ultimately, growing and learning as he discovers new ideas and pushes his conciousness to understand new complexities.
This book heavily relies on stereotypes to tell the story, and I read a few reviews by people who thought this wasn’t a good strategy for this book. I disagree, finding that, for me, it worked exceedingly well. I liked it because it may seem like this book is relying on stereotypes but, to me, more than anything this book was working to make you question stereotypes. Alexie gives us stories of characters that fall into their stereotype, but he also makes many of them more than the way society views them. He asks us to look more cloesely and past the stereotype by examining what got them to such a point in their life and why they made the choices they did that lead to this end result.
This also works because in the beginning of this book our MC, Zits, sees himself as a stereotype; he sees himself as just another statistic, as just another number, as devalued–as if his life doesn’t matter. Alexie wants us to understand that. But, since that is the beginning, he also wants us to understand something more. By the end, Zits has learned that there is a little something redeeming in everybody, even himself. He has looked beyond stereotypes and statistics and has started to see actually people–real, complex, horrible, wonderful, disgusting, beautiful, terrible people.
He starts to recognize that maybe all human life is sacred in a way whether a human fits their stereotype or doesn’t. By the end, he realizes this is true, even for himself. Ultimately, this book is about a sense of redemption.
I’ve talked so much about the story that I have yet to mention how beautifully written this book is. Alexie had me laughing one moment and sobbing the next. His writing style matches how he wants his readers to view humanity: Complex. There is so much dimension to this story. I said earlier that this is an easy read. What I meant was that the writing is simplistic enough and the font is big enough to make this book easily readable in one sitting. That, though, says nothing about the subject matter.
Alexie writes about some pretty heavy topics. He tells us things matter-of-factly and sometimes crudely. He also tells us histories that are not talked about. He tells us truths, and sometimes the truth is hard to face. That’s what makes this book hard. But, my god, is it worth it. This book asks you to question how you think, and is one that is going to stay with you after you’ve finished reading it.
So, it is easy, and it heavy, and it is achingly beautiful. It will hurt you and heal you all at once and without warning. This book will open your eyes to new ideas, concepts, and critical thinking if you’re brave enough to let it.
I oh-so-highly recommend you give this book a try. I adored everything about this read and cannot wait to continue to read more of Alexie’s writing in the, hopefully near, future.
Book Depository – $11.12
This is it for the week for me. I hope you all have a lovely holiday, whatever you’re celebrating. And, if you’re not celebrating anything, I hope you have a wonderful weekend.
I know it can be hard around the holidays for any of you who can’t go home for various reason, and I just want to remind you that you are not alone. That I am here for you and am willing to give support and comfort to anyone who needs it. If you don’t have a family to go home to or have a family that doesn’t accept you, I want you to know that I will be your family and I will always accept you know matter what ❤ Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. It does not make you weak.
You are valid. You are importaint. You are loved.
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