Review: Flight by Sherman Alexie

52872Publication Date: April 17, 2007

Zits is transported back in time, into the body of someone else? Why? How? He shot up a bank and woke up in someone else's body.

Zits finds himself in difficult situations each time he wakes up in someone else's body. He's forced to question what makes violence okay and why humans behave the way they do. He's forced to come up with answers he doesn't have.


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Date Read: October 25, 2018

Anyone surprised that I read this for class? No? Okay good, cause I read this for class. I'd heard good things about Sherman Alexie in the past, especially when it comes to his other books. I didn't know anything about this before going into the book, so I was really interested in seeing where it would go.

It threw me off when the time-jumping and body-jumping started. Actually, the whole beginning really threw me off. I was not expecting the language to be that explicit and the material to be so unsettling. I say this as someone who can read books with swearing without flinching and can read about murder with very little discomfort. But this book made me so uncomfortable for so many reasons.

Firstly, there's the way race is portrayed in the book. Zits is biracial, and he's very lost with where he wants to identify racially. It's understandable, and that's not what I have a problem with. What I have a problem with is the way that all races are being talked about. Everyone is referred to with racial slurs, and white people are seen as morally above others. Sure, that' 99% of the reason why Alexie wrote them that way - to make his readers uncomfortable. But the way I read it? It was straight-up disrespectful and entirely offensive. I was so offended while reading the book, and I think that the same point could have been brought across without the crudeness.

Something that really bothered me was the fact that there were no rules to Zits' body jumping. We have no consistent basis for when he body-jumps, and there's not really any specific rhyme or reason for the people he jumps into. It was frustrating because I never knew what to expect or when. I had very little to work with when it came to believing how all of this was possible.

There's also the problem of sexism. If you know anything about Sherman Alexie, you might have heard that earlier in 2018, he was accused of sexual harassment by several female authors. He's denied this, but he's also not the first male author to have been accused this year. Now, without making this political - a man who can sexually harass a woman is the same kind of man who can write in a very sexist manner. His portrayal of Zits' gives us a self-aware horny teenager who looks at women as nothing more than objects to fulfill his sexual desire. There are several instances in which Zits specifically says that he would love to have sex with a women he meets or that he's looking forward to being able to have sex with her. I don't get the point of that. I don't see how this aspect of Zits' character helps him in any way or teaches him anything. He's still the same at the end of the book.

Which leads me to talk about the ending. It was far too convenient for my taste. Everything fell into place perfectly and Zits didn't have to do anything or make any effort to get his second chance. He just walked down the street for a couple of hours and everything in his life fell into place. He gets saved by white people who conveniently have the perfect conditions for him and want to help him. He's supposed to get this second chance because he realizes something crucial about violence and the way it affects humanity, but I didn't feel like he actually learned anything. In fact, I wrote my reflection paper on this very fact - the lack of coherence in the ending.

It's very safe to say that I didn't like this book. I couldn't, and still can't see the point it was trying to make. Maybe I'm not smart enough to see the point, but I just had so many problems with this. As a woman, as a person of color, as a writer and a reader - this isn't something I would ever let my children read in the future, and it's not something I'd ever teach to young adults.

Zits had such a range of issues that I don't think were dealt with. To me, he didn't have any character growth or development. It was written to make it seem that way, but how he thought and talked and acted, it all contradicted the supposed reformation he went through.

3 stars. Don't read this. It's not worth it.

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