Zits is a troubled teenage boy, in and out of foster homes, who struggles with his identity as an Irish-Indian because neither of his parents are around to teach him about his heritage. Zits meets a new friend in jail who takes him down a dark path. As he’s about to commit several acts of murder, Zits is transported back in time to relive many acts of violence in American history through the eyes of each assailant.

Similar to other works of fiction by Sherman Alexie, Flight explores the journey of self-identity of a poor, young Native American, authentically addressing both class and ethnic struggles. Some stereotypes are confirmed; others, challenged, but all ring true. Zits inhabits the bodies of many, Indian and white, from a child to an elderly adult. All have reasons for revenge; all are justified in their killing. But when our young warrior finally returns to his own body, he has a change of heart.

Mostly a tragedy of human nature, Alexie balances the bloody history of America from the front lines with a little humor and a little hope. The time travel is a dash a scifi, but it’s the realistic elements of the story that stick. Transitions from one body to the next are jarring, for both Zits and the reader, but this is not meant to be a subtle book. Highly recommended for young adults! However, if you are new to Sherman Alexie, I recommend reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian first for a narrative with richer characterization!

“I hate my country. There are so many rich people who don’t share their shit. They’re like spoiled little ten-year-old bullies on the playground. They hog the monkey bars and the slide and the seesaw. And if you complain even a little bit, if you try to get just one spin on the merry-go-round, the bullies beat the shit out of you.”