cover image Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land

Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land

Noé Álvarez. Catapult, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-1-9482-2646-2

Yakima native Álvarez debuts with a spellbinding narrative of his coming to terms with his place in America today. Álvarez and his parents, undocumented Mexican immigrants, worked in a Washington apple-packing plant and lived in a neighborhood where the American Dream was replaced with what Álvaraz describes as a Raymond Carver–esque “world of loneliness, tarnished relationships, and violence.” While his parents immigrated to give Álvarez a better life, his father memorably tells him to “Never be like me. Like any of this. Get out while you can.” Escape presents itself in the form of an acceptance letter to Whitman College, but he soon feels out of place there as a first-generation Latino student. After dropping out, he flies to British Columbia to join the Peace and Dignity Journeys, a group of about a dozen Native American/First Nations runners who have embarked on an epic, 6,000-mile trek from Alaska to Panama. Together, they sprint through lands that were stolen from their ancestors, encountering mountain lions, stone-throwing motorcyclists, and more danger and turbulence along the four-month slog. In electric prose, Álvarez writes of returning home and forging a new connection with the land and its communities: “I grow excited at the thought of becoming reacquainted with my relatives that are the land and the trees.” This literary tour de force beautifully combines outdoor adventure with a sharp take on immigration. (Mar.)