Flight by Sherman Alexie
“Call Me Zits” is how the story of a self-described half-indian, half-irish teenager starts his story. He’s jaded and hardened by 22 foster homes in 12 years. He is miserable, and feels like no one has cared for him since his mother passed away when he was 6. His father? The perpetually drunk and irresponsible man took off the day Zits was born. For Zits, his face and back pimples are the only things that are consistent in his life. Everything else changes. One day, after getting picked up for pushing his new foster mother, Zits meets another teen in lock-up. Justice becomes Zits’s best friend, and drives him to do deeper and darker things. Finally Justice talks Zits into going into a bank lobby with a gun, and pulling the trigger. That is the last Zits remembers, until he wakes up in the body of an FBI agent from the 70′s. Thus begins a whirlwind ride through time as Zits experiences life and loss, war and love, and comes to a deeper understanding of the forces that he has allowed to shape his life and his hopelessness.
Flight begins so darkly and harshly, and yet ends with such redemption and hope. It is a powerful journey from despair to hope. Participants reading this book found ample discussion about the nature of hope, and how we give up on life when we don’t know love. We also pursued discussions on choice, whether our circumstances make us choose what we do, or if there is always a place and time to choose the path we take. Zits’ journey from not belonging anywhere, to finding a life really resonates with teens, especially boys.
In addition to Flight Reading for Life has also used another Sherman Alexie book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.