Touching Spirit Bear

Touching Spirit Bear

by Ben Mikaelsen

In his Napra Nautilus Award-winning novel Touching Spirit Bear, author Ben Mikaelson delivers a poignant coming-of-age story of a boy who must overcome the effects that violence has had on his life.

After severely injuring Peter Driscal in an empty parking lot, mischief-maker Cole Matthews is in major trouble. But instead of jail time, Cole is given another option: attend Circle Justice, an alternative program that sends juvenile offenders to a remote Alaskan Island to focus on changing their ways. Desperate to avoid prison, Cole fakes humility and agrees to go.

While there, Cole is mauled by a mysterious white bear and left for dead. Thoughts of his abusive parents, helpless Peter, and his own anger cause him to examine his actions and seek redemption—from the spirit bear that attacked him, from his victims, and from himself.

Bookdragon says: Okay, this was an intense read. There are some harrowing accounts of physical abuse, and Cole’s first few days are truly terrible — injured badly by a bear, seagulls pecking at his torn flesh — this is not pretty. But the eventual redemption and self-examination of a boy filled with anger and hate overcomes the ugliness, teaching important lessons about responsibility, happiness and really living.



  • Very well-written
  • Important messages about healing
  • Tackles important themes of abuse and anger
  • Beautiful scenes with nature and tribal wisdom


  • Some tough scenes to get through
  • Possible triggers for abuse victims