counter create hit Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America's Stolen Land - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

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

Availability: Ready to download

An electrifying debut memoir of a son of working-class Mexican immigrants who fled a life of labor in fruit-packing plants to run in a Native American marathon from Canada to Guatemala, challenging himself to reimagine North America and his place in it.


Compare
Ads Banner

An electrifying debut memoir of a son of working-class Mexican immigrants who fled a life of labor in fruit-packing plants to run in a Native American marathon from Canada to Guatemala, challenging himself to reimagine North America and his place in it.

30 review for Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America's Stolen Land

  1. 4 out of 5

    Olive

    The below review originally appeared on Open Letters Review. When Noé Álvarez, crossing the Mexican border with an American passport, provided a Latino border guard with his reasoning for entering the country not as the typical business or pleasure, but instead, to run through the country on his way to Central America, he was met with a halting question: “But aren’t you running the wrong way?” Though Central America was indeed the destination, it was hardly the start. In his memoir, Spirit Run: A The below review originally appeared on Open Letters Review. When Noé Álvarez, crossing the Mexican border with an American passport, provided a Latino border guard with his reasoning for entering the country not as the typical business or pleasure, but instead, to run through the country on his way to Central America, he was met with a halting question: “But aren’t you running the wrong way?” Though Central America was indeed the destination, it was hardly the start. In his memoir, Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America's Stolen Land, Álvarez chronicles his experience traveling across the continent in a run hosted by Peace and Dignity Journeys. It is an event that happens only once every four years and lasts six months as indigenous peoples from anywhere on the continent participate in a highly symbolic run from Alaska to Panama, at which point the group will meet with a separate group of runners traveling north through South America. When pitched to Álvarez, the run was spoken about like a type of prayer, a way to spiritually connect with the land and learn “how to be human again.” It is a yearning for both connection and escape that seems to draw the author to the run. The son of immigrant parents, he hails from Washington State, specifically Yakima, a region whose fertile soils are famous and agricultural products are abundant. Apple and cherry trees grow with ease and their fruit has been historically handled by the state’s immigrant populations. The author’s Mexican mother is one such worker, a fruit sorter whose identity at work collapses into the homogenous working machine. Both of the author’s parents urge him not to follow their path of becoming cogs in the wheel. Through his adolescence, running becomes a means by which he can shake off his problems, if only for the duration of the run. At the same time, he has a tenuous relationship with the ground beneath his feet, a land which made steep promises to his family, but whose demands never cease. Growing up seeing his parents’ backs learn the curve of labor instilled deep resentment: “I grew to hate the land for what was done to it, and for what it had done to my parents, whose calloused hands I can never forgive, nor forget.” Álvarez, having found no solace in escaping into college life, drops out to join the run, hoping that using his feet will help him find the advertised peace and dignity. Noé joins the runners in Canada one month after the start of the journey and feels the effects of being late. The other runners, to whom we are introduced long before the run’s beginning, in the book’s prologue, take some time to warm up to our author. Eventually, once the ice melts, we discover that each of his fellow participants has a story to tell. These individuals become major figures in the author’s experience and come to dominate the book, unsurprising given the reliance they place upon one another in the relay-style, 10-mile-per-day-minimum runs. The challenges of the run are expectedly intense. The daily physical demands put the author’s body in a near-constant state of pain, especially after he experiences an injury, and the changing terrain presents shifting threats. Unpleasant interactions with non-runners are unavoidable as they pass through densely populated areas. Runners become target practice for rock-throwers and occasionally draw the attention of those with more sinister ideas. Even the runners, though intensely connected with one another, are not immune to in-fighting. The group’s rapport begins to go further and further south as the run does. Throughout the book, in between presentations of the run and the runners, Álvarez deeply considers what the run represents. He notes, correctly, that the run stood in defiance of the negative connotations of running historically attached to immigrant populations: Running, I begin to learn the hard way, is a sacred motion - different from the assumptions I had of the act growing up, when the stories I knew were only of migrants running from immigration raids, and mass deportations. That, coupled with my own experiences, back then, of running from street gangs. The motion of running to me meant a defensive act, one that arose from the fear and desperation of a vulnerable people who were running as a means of survival. The fact that the run, in a powerful way, reclaims the act of running as a positive one, highlights the biggest shortcoming of the book; simply stated, there is not enough of the run in Spirit Run. Perhaps because the logistics are more than fifteen years in the author’s past, readers don’t get to feel enough of the repeated motion of feet hitting earth, but can instead expect the notable highlights as well as the grander lessons that have endured. These lessons often bridge the gaps of the sometimes sparse narrative. Throughout, Álvarez delivers moments of profound insight as he re-develops his own relationship with the land, struggles to feel at home in his heritage, and, particularly in the Mexico portions, contemplates what his life may have been like if his parents never left. A reverent examination of the spiritual links to oft-trodden ground, Spirit Run stumbles at times, but still crosses the finish line.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    Noé Álvarez is the son of working-class, immigrant parents and he wants desperately to get out of Yakima, Washington. After an initial try at college, he signs up for the Peace and Dignity Journeys-- a run from Alaska to South America celebrating indigenous peoples. Along the way, he connects to the land and the people in ways he never expected. He finds a sense of peace within himself and a new appreciation for both where he's from and where he wants to go. Being from the Yakima Valley myself, Noé Álvarez is the son of working-class, immigrant parents and he wants desperately to get out of Yakima, Washington. After an initial try at college, he signs up for the Peace and Dignity Journeys-- a run from Alaska to South America celebrating indigenous peoples. Along the way, he connects to the land and the people in ways he never expected. He finds a sense of peace within himself and a new appreciation for both where he's from and where he wants to go. Being from the Yakima Valley myself, and a fan of Raymond Carver, this book holds a special resonance for me. But that aside, this is a book about a journey. And like any great pilgrimage, this one is thoughtful, honest, emotional, and yes, spiritual.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Thoughts soon.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    The child of immigrants, Álvarez grew up southeast of Seattle in Yakima Valley. His parents endured laboring in the apple packing plants that distribute our famous Washington apples to the nation, and he joined them for a time and witnessed the harsh conditions firsthand. This part of the narrative was especially eye-opening for me. Renewed my resolve to always give thanks for the food I eat, and do more towards GOOD working conditions for folks who toil a lot harder for their livelihood than I The child of immigrants, Álvarez grew up southeast of Seattle in Yakima Valley. His parents endured laboring in the apple packing plants that distribute our famous Washington apples to the nation, and he joined them for a time and witnessed the harsh conditions firsthand. This part of the narrative was especially eye-opening for me. Renewed my resolve to always give thanks for the food I eat, and do more towards GOOD working conditions for folks who toil a lot harder for their livelihood than I do. The majority of the tale focuses on Álvarez' break from college to run in an Indigenous relay called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, joining the run in British Columbia, finally departing from it near Huehuetenango, Guatemala. The journey is about a lot of different things to a lot of different people, including but not limited to reconnecting with the magnitude of land that is Turtle Island. Very readable. Álvarez has a solid writing voice. He brings his family, friends, and frenemies to life in my mind. Would like to have read about the experience from a few other vantage points: how did Cheeto see things; Zyanya Lonewolf; Chapito? I was reading The Buddhist on Death Row by David Sheff at the same time as I read Spirit Run, so suffering was on my mind as I tried to follow him through his journey. Whereas Masters in the former book graduated from his own suffering, to the suffering he inflicted, to the suffering of others, Álvarez' narrative seemed stuck at his own suffering and sometimes his parents' suffering. That's probably where I'm at most days, but I wonder if there's another version of this story in the future that does that deeper dive. Unlike Annie Dillard's writing, I did not feel like I was experiencing the terrain or nature with Álvarez; descriptions of ecosystems were about weather and the kind of ground being traversed; this really is a story told more by feet than anything. And, the narration glosses over it somewhat, but it seems like Álvarez was regularly pushing way passed what his body was ready to do, so a lot of the book feels a little like a fever dream of surviving. To me, one of the only running moments that burned itself into my confabulated-visual-memory was his encounter with a mountain lion. Unlike Cheeto, Álvarez doesn't share with us all the People who provided food on the journey or the gratitude he might have expressed to them. I would like to have known more about all of the People who welcomed the runners on to their land and fed them. All that said, I am probably asking the same question a lot of others have: did he burn his neighbor's house down?!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris LaTray

    The world needs more books like SPIRIT RUN, written by people who have actually lived the experiences of marginalized communities, rather than just parachuted in, done a few interviews, and then written about them. Noé Álvarez speaks with an eloquent and much-needed voice for the working class, for the struggles experienced by people living—not just outside of, but ostracized by—the mainstream as part of a community that is at the same time a key element of the infrastructure the entire bloody f The world needs more books like SPIRIT RUN, written by people who have actually lived the experiences of marginalized communities, rather than just parachuted in, done a few interviews, and then written about them. Noé Álvarez speaks with an eloquent and much-needed voice for the working class, for the struggles experienced by people living—not just outside of, but ostracized by—the mainstream as part of a community that is at the same time a key element of the infrastructure the entire bloody framework is propped up on. I challenge anyone to find one drop of hyperbole in that statement. The community Álvarez and his family occupy—immigrant, migrant, whatever-you-want-to-call-them laborers—are a critical piece of the American puzzle and we only show them, at best, a vague disrespect. Beyond that, though, the story of the run hinted at in the title is interesting enough on its own. The way Álvarez threads the run and the people who undertake it through the rest of the narrative is done very well, and the book succeeds at being a kind of travel narrative/reporting piece as well. This is a timely and important book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    3.5 stars super quick read. Full RTC .

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    This is an excellent memoir that combines vivid imagery and moving descriptions of the writer's experiences as a first generation American. He tells the story of his family in a powerful way that transports us to a different reality and helps us understand the modern immigration story. He also takes us on a journey throughout the Americas and weaves the lives of other runners into the story. Within the first few pages I was touched and tearing up from the power of real people's stories. There we This is an excellent memoir that combines vivid imagery and moving descriptions of the writer's experiences as a first generation American. He tells the story of his family in a powerful way that transports us to a different reality and helps us understand the modern immigration story. He also takes us on a journey throughout the Americas and weaves the lives of other runners into the story. Within the first few pages I was touched and tearing up from the power of real people's stories. There were also moments of levity. The book is honest and doesn't sugar coat what it is to be human. A refreshing and powerful story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Noé grew up in Yakima, Washington, alongside his mother who worked in an apple-packing plant. As the son of two Mexican immigrants, he knew he was lucky to receive a scholarship to attend college, but a year into his program he is having a hard time fitting in and figuring out what it is he wants to make of himself as a first-generation Mexican American. This is a theme that will carry throughout the book, with no definitive ending, but along the way, Alvarez does a great job highlighting why th Noé grew up in Yakima, Washington, alongside his mother who worked in an apple-packing plant. As the son of two Mexican immigrants, he knew he was lucky to receive a scholarship to attend college, but a year into his program he is having a hard time fitting in and figuring out what it is he wants to make of himself as a first-generation Mexican American. This is a theme that will carry throughout the book, with no definitive ending, but along the way, Alvarez does a great job highlighting why this space of indecision, of opportunity, and of longing for connection and a place to fit in IS the immigrant story. At 19, Alvarez discovers the Peace and Dignity Journey, which is a movement by Native American and First Nations people meant to create cultural connections across the Americas through marathoning. He drops out of school as he realizes this is something he needs to do, and he begins his journey in Canada, where he runs along side individuals of a whole array of Native and Indigenous backgrounds and experiences. The journey takes him through all kinds of terrain, experiences of hunger and thirst and exhaustion, as well as land that has been stolen by colonizers and turned to profit at the loss of original culture, tradition, and pride. Throughout the marathon, he not only finds himself being pushed to his physical, mental, and emotional limits, but he faces being kicked out of the race over and over -- which fuels his determination to fight harder, until the moment he knows he wants to end. When he finishes his race through Mexico and lands in Guatemala, Alvarez boards a plane and heads back home. He doesn’t have any answers, but he has found passion and connection with the land and the people of the land. What makes this book special is there’s actually very little about the race itself -- something I could have read so many more pages on. Instead, woven into the runs are Alvarez’s anecdotes about his parents, about his home life, about the ways he’s lived what could be seen as a classic tale of a Mexican-American immigrant’s life. It’s a short read, but it’s packed with so much heart and soul, along with a tremendous sense of desire for finding one’s place in space and time, while understanding that being a person who isn’t white and privileged and living on stolen land in a country that isn’t his own makes finding oneself fraught and complicated. Readers wanting a story of an immigrant, of the child of Mexican migrants, will do well with this memoir. The ways it ties into Native American history and culture, too, adds a whole layer of complexity that’s necessary to better seeing immigration through a wide, thoughtful, and nuanced lens. Likewise, the marathon itself is a fascinating event and one I know I want to read a heck of a lot more about.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Álvarez and his family had their dreams come true when he received a full ride to college, a way out of the endless labor of working at an apple factory in Yakima. While at school, he learns of the Peace and Dignity Journey, a run held every four years from Alaska to the southern end of Mexico, stretching thousands of miles. This is a program aids in helping Indigenous people from all nations reconnect to their lands, spiritually and emotionally. To Noé, this was an opportunity worth dropping ou Álvarez and his family had their dreams come true when he received a full ride to college, a way out of the endless labor of working at an apple factory in Yakima. While at school, he learns of the Peace and Dignity Journey, a run held every four years from Alaska to the southern end of Mexico, stretching thousands of miles. This is a program aids in helping Indigenous people from all nations reconnect to their lands, spiritually and emotionally. To Noé, this was an opportunity worth dropping out for. Álvarez recounts many highs and lows on his run-- severe conditions, friendships, rivalries, and the freedoms the journey has brought him, in every sense of the word. Spirit Run is simultaneously harsh and uplifting, bound to engage and inspire readers across the board.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    The book was interesting to a point. Eye-opening in regards to the apple plant, the workers, the run itself, and many of the people within his tale. But at some point, it ceased to feel like a narrative, and started feeling more like a series of quick journal entries, which didn't have the draw or the emotional impact (for me) as the first part did. The marathon *is* something new to me, so there's that - though in many ways, it sounds ripe for abuse, of the kind Noe experienced, and other kinds The book was interesting to a point. Eye-opening in regards to the apple plant, the workers, the run itself, and many of the people within his tale. But at some point, it ceased to feel like a narrative, and started feeling more like a series of quick journal entries, which didn't have the draw or the emotional impact (for me) as the first part did. The marathon *is* something new to me, so there's that - though in many ways, it sounds ripe for abuse, of the kind Noe experienced, and other kinds as well. Overall, this could be a very worthwhile book for a certain audience, but I feel that there was so much more here that could have been explored.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    Noé Álvarez’s Spirit Run is a brief recounting if his marathon with other Indigenous runners in the Peace and Dignity Journeys, a run to pull together communities, to connect with the land, and to grow and heal as individuals while setting feet to the ground from Alaska to Panama. Set against the background of a childhood spent with his undocumented parents in Washington state in a community of labourers, and his eventual scholarship and entry into the hostile world of post-secondary education, Noé Álvarez’s Spirit Run is a brief recounting if his marathon with other Indigenous runners in the Peace and Dignity Journeys, a run to pull together communities, to connect with the land, and to grow and heal as individuals while setting feet to the ground from Alaska to Panama. Set against the background of a childhood spent with his undocumented parents in Washington state in a community of labourers, and his eventual scholarship and entry into the hostile world of post-secondary education, Álvarez found the run at a crossroads in his life, and it clearly profoundly shaped him in so many ways. I most loved his description of himself on the land, truly what a journey. I also appreciated his honesty about some of the dysfunction and bullying on the journey - it was apparent that those experiences loomed large and are still unresolved for him. What was missing for me in the book was more of the relational piece between Álvarez and the other runners - who was he close to, and who were they as people?I think that this was probably somewhat limited by these being stories that were not Alvarez’s to tell, which I understand, but I wish that if the book hadn’t been able to go outwards to those that ran alongside him, that he had dug a bit deeper into his own emotional journey on the run. While the book brought me alive into what it means to truly appreciate the territories upon which we set our feet, I didn’t feel that I ever truly got to dig all the way into the soil of this book. Thank you @netgalley for the ARC, opinions are my own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Viktoria

    Powerful memoir. It’s more about Alvarez’ upbringing and struggles, than about the run itself; a self-discovery in progress. His story is five star story, but writing needs some work and editing. I understand where Alvarez is coming from, as I’ve been there. The most heartbreaking thought I am able to relate to is Alvarez’s guilt and shame: “For longer than I can remember I was ashamed of who I was.” After experiencing trauma that is impossible to shake off, the sense of the normal is marred by a Powerful memoir. It’s more about Alvarez’ upbringing and struggles, than about the run itself; a self-discovery in progress. His story is five star story, but writing needs some work and editing. I understand where Alvarez is coming from, as I’ve been there. The most heartbreaking thought I am able to relate to is Alvarez’s guilt and shame: “For longer than I can remember I was ashamed of who I was.” After experiencing trauma that is impossible to shake off, the sense of the normal is marred by a burden one cannot share. It feels like others live in a dream landscape you cannot reach, a hurdle you can’t jump across, even though you have all the tools to do so. At age 19 Alvarez reaches that landscape, by leaving Yakima valley and his family of agricultural migrants. He’s admitted to a great private school. He can’t function there, though, his burden is too palpable, and his shortcomings too many. He tries very hard, but the run with Peace and Dignity Journey gives him an opportunity to do what he is best at, running; and it gives him a chance to run with others who are also searching for connection to the land and to others. The premise of PDJ run is fascinating, they visit tribes and sacred places, go through ceremonies, while running south (“the wrong way”) Alvarez does a very nice job in capturing his running mates stories and struggles. He does a great job of fitting himself into the world of running and reevaluating his past life, and his direction. At first he acknowledges that in spite of his college education he cannot truly move out of his environment, out of the world he knows; that he’d always be part of the working class. Important memoir. .

  13. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    What a moving memoir. Not perfectly written, but that's not the point. I'm so glad Alvarez shared his story with us, and I hope his poor knees have healed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca H.

    In Spirit Run, Noé Álvarez describes his childhood as the son of Mexican immigrants, growing up in Yakima, Washington, watching his parents worn down by hard labor. He writes about being a first generation college student and the pressures of wanting to succeed to help his family while trying to adapt to an entirely new world. Eventually, he decides to drop out of college and join the Peace and Dignity Journey, an annual marathon from Canada to Guatemala with the aim of bringing healing to indig In Spirit Run, Noé Álvarez describes his childhood as the son of Mexican immigrants, growing up in Yakima, Washington, watching his parents worn down by hard labor. He writes about being a first generation college student and the pressures of wanting to succeed to help his family while trying to adapt to an entirely new world. Eventually, he decides to drop out of college and join the Peace and Dignity Journey, an annual marathon from Canada to Guatemala with the aim of bringing healing to indigenous people and their relationship to the land. Álvarez captures the physical and mental challenges of the run and also the complications that arise when he’s thrown into close quarters with a group of people who don’t always agree. Álvarez’s story is awe-inspiring and full of wisdom about how to live with integrity, compassion, and love. https://bookriot.com/2020/04/10/innov...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Meri

    Spirit Run, a debut memoir by a gifted storyteller, is simultaneously harrowing and heartening. It is a narrative of pushing a body beyond the breaking point with fluid-filled knees the size of melons, knees that respond to their plight with knives of pain. It's a story of jogging loose new insights and old memories with each footfall. It exudes a strong sense of place, both the landscape to which he is anchored by childhood experience and those through which he passes on his mega-marathon of d Spirit Run, a debut memoir by a gifted storyteller, is simultaneously harrowing and heartening. It is a narrative of pushing a body beyond the breaking point with fluid-filled knees the size of melons, knees that respond to their plight with knives of pain. It's a story of jogging loose new insights and old memories with each footfall. It exudes a strong sense of place, both the landscape to which he is anchored by childhood experience and those through which he passes on his mega-marathon of discovery as a young man. It delineates the struggle to accept and then celebrate one's wholeness, with all its authentic imperfections and perceived shortcomings. This memoir also gives those of us who grew up white and middle class insight into the damage to one's identity formation -- not to mention one's physical safety and bodily integrity -- incurred by growing up "other," whether from being a member of a non-dominant ethnic/racial group or the social underclass. Noé Alvarez is a gifted teacher as well as a skilled writer.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I only wish this had been a little longer--the ending felt a bit abrupt. But overall it was a really interesting look at a fascinating event that I knew nothing about, beautifully woven together with stories of Alvarez's childhood, the stories of his Mexican immigrant parents, and his own grappling with his identity and place in the world. One thing I loved about this was the messy ways Alvarez describes his experiences on the run. For several months, he ran from Canada to Mexico with a group of I only wish this had been a little longer--the ending felt a bit abrupt. But overall it was a really interesting look at a fascinating event that I knew nothing about, beautifully woven together with stories of Alvarez's childhood, the stories of his Mexican immigrant parents, and his own grappling with his identity and place in the world. One thing I loved about this was the messy ways Alvarez describes his experiences on the run. For several months, he ran from Canada to Mexico with a group of indigenous people from all over the continent, stopping at indigenous communities along the way. The run is far from perfect--people disagree and don't get along. There's sexism, bullying, people not being kind to each other, not respecting or caring about other people's physical needs. Sometimes the leadership is a mess. But there is also deep connection, friendship, support, and celebration. It was a refreshingly honest look at what it's like to live in community with people who come together around a common idea/set of beliefs but have many different values, opinions, ways of expressing those beliefs. Ramon de Ocampo narrates the audiobook and he's excellent.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily Goenner

    I wanted so much more from this memoir. I felt like it couldn't decide if it was a coming of age tale, a nature book, or a study in conflict and first-people's culture. Also, it felt like I was supposed to know and care about the circle of characters around Noe on the trail, but I never felt close to them. The entire memoir felt a little scattershot and kept me at an arm's distance and I struggled to finish it. Disappointing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    This memoir is about the authors life, and also what it is like being the son of working class Mexican immigrants, in a town in Washington state, and of his search to find out who he really is and what he stands for in this world. His parents have had a hard life in the orchards and apple packing plants, that took everything out of them. I think a bit differently now when I bite into an apple that was so easy to acquire, knowing what it is like for the many workers in those packing plants. The a This memoir is about the authors life, and also what it is like being the son of working class Mexican immigrants, in a town in Washington state, and of his search to find out who he really is and what he stands for in this world. His parents have had a hard life in the orchards and apple packing plants, that took everything out of them. I think a bit differently now when I bite into an apple that was so easy to acquire, knowing what it is like for the many workers in those packing plants. The author worked beside his mother at the plant while in high school and would always run to rid himself of the stress and frustration of his situation. After high school Noe was lucky to have gotten a full scholarship to a university, and was excited about the prospect of getting an education and being able to help people in similar situations as his parents. Once at the school he just couldn't settle his mind and then one day, he heard a talk by an organizer of a Native American/First Nations movement called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, a race that starts in Alaska through the Americas, to Panama. A journey of Native runners who want to connect with the earth, their spirituality and to find out about other Native Americans beliefs along the journey. As the run starts and the runners head south, picking up runners in different locations, Noe encounters many different personalities, who have all had many hardships. Some with strong personalities, who did not always follow the rules or were not always as nice as they could have been to fellow runners, it was a hard run with many leg injuries along the way. The author made it to just over the Guatemalan Border, having run through Mexico, which had been his main goal, as he wanted to be able to connect to his parents native land. He went back to education after leaving the race. Beautifully written, he is a talented author. I would like to thank NetGalley and Catapult for allowing me to read this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alycia

    I loved Noé’s descriptive writing, his accounts of daily life in Yakima and of immigrants’ experiences, the landscapes he ran through and the other runners alongside him on the PDJ.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Kiefer

    The first half of this book read like the overwritten product of an MFA program. The second half read as if the author thought maxim was “tell, don’t show, and then tell some more.” This ranged from the frustrating (The group struggles to adhere to local customs as they travel - I want to learn more about those customs and how the differences are resolved!) to outright bizarre (One of the organizers was withholding food and water to the point it reached the authorities, and then you were bullied The first half of this book read like the overwritten product of an MFA program. The second half read as if the author thought maxim was “tell, don’t show, and then tell some more.” This ranged from the frustrating (The group struggles to adhere to local customs as they travel - I want to learn more about those customs and how the differences are resolved!) to outright bizarre (One of the organizers was withholding food and water to the point it reached the authorities, and then you were bullied into recanting? That deserves way more than a one paragraph aside!) I’m also really disappointed in that I hoped to learn more about various indigenous communities through this book, but for all the author rails (rightly) against privilege, he has a lot of his own that mostly goes unremarked upon. He very quickly glosses over the fact that he, someone who does not identify as indigenous, inserts himself into an indigenous-led and indigenous-focused effort, and turns it into whining that he doesn’t understand the social etiquette and no one wants to explain it to him. He also spends only a couple sentences on the fact that he not only drops out of college, but walks away from a full-ride, and considers that is maybe a privilege - I really had to shake my head. I don’t mean to discount at all what the author has gone through being working class and Latinx - in fact I think a work focusing instead on why he struggled to transition to college, followed by a trip to Mexico with the explicit purpose of understanding his parents better, would’ve been a much stronger work.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Catapult

    The electrifying debut memoir of a son of working-class Mexican immigrants who fled a life of labor in fruit-packing plants to run in a Native American marathon from Canada to Guatemala, challenging himself to reimagine North America and his place in it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nate Hawthorne

    It was interesting to read about this because I had never heard about it before. I feel that most of the topics are just barely described enough to scratch the surface. Great perspective from people we do not hear from.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christine (Queen of Books)

    Thank you to Catapult and NetGalley for a free e-arc for review. Spirit Run is a memoir by Noé Álvarez, who talks about growing up the son of working-class Mexican immigrants and later participating in the Peace and Dignity Journeys. The memoir starts off powerful - rather than diving into running at the outset, Álvarez focuses on what it's like to work in fruit-packing plants. That section was quite well-written; I could just see those working conditions and imagine the toll they take on one's b Thank you to Catapult and NetGalley for a free e-arc for review. Spirit Run is a memoir by Noé Álvarez, who talks about growing up the son of working-class Mexican immigrants and later participating in the Peace and Dignity Journeys. The memoir starts off powerful - rather than diving into running at the outset, Álvarez focuses on what it's like to work in fruit-packing plants. That section was quite well-written; I could just see those working conditions and imagine the toll they take on one's body (and mind). He continues on to talk about his experience beginning college as a first-generation Latino student. I was excited to (around 20%) get into the running content. I had not previously read about PDJ. But, this is very much a memoir. So Álvarez goes from one minute talking about Circle, to the run itself, to his experience of running, to recollections from his past - much as one's brain might cycle through these things while physically running. It's a slim book, and it left me wanting more. I expected the book to feature running, travel, and information on the PDJ, and while there's a bit of that, I tend to think Spirit Run is more coming-of-age memoir than anything - albeit, the coming of age of a son of working-class Mexican immigrants. That in itself is valuable, but that's not what I expected going into the book (given the title, cover, and synopsis). Still, read it for that - for Álvarez's journey to make sense of his place in the world. P.S. I'd be remiss not to mention that I had serious concerns about the health of the runners. (I suppose I could have expected that from the synopsis - thirst is not a thing to "overcome!")

  24. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    A memoir of running, identity, and trying to find belonging, Spirit Run is unique and tough to read. Not because of the writing, which is very descriptive and poetic, but because of the journey that the author goes on, and the resistance that he finds to the peace and dignity he was searching for in the run through North American indigenous lands. This is hard one to review - and to me, that makes it that much more important for everyone to read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paul Womack

    This is not an idealized memoir of the ease of running, but rather an honest reflection on the search for pride in one’s origins and place in this world. There is not harmony and team spirit, but the hard work of reflection and coming into the grace of simply being. A very fine read, this is.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Beautiful

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dave Feldmann

    Loved it! A true story of sheer endurance as well as emotional, physical, and mental strength. Overcoming preconceived notions of one's heritage while learning about himself, his culture and that of others. "Realizing it is ok to be ordinary!"

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kate M

    Solid 3.5 stars. It wasn’t so much the writing I loved the way that this book made me re-examine what it means to be an immigrant in America, or an indigenous population. The depth of collective trauma due to colonialism is deep in North America. Learning about the Native American/First Nations’ Peace and Dignity Journeys was so interesting and made me want to help that cause. There were some gems in this book, including the following excerpts: After his run, Noe wonders the following about his mot Solid 3.5 stars. It wasn’t so much the writing I loved the way that this book made me re-examine what it means to be an immigrant in America, or an indigenous population. The depth of collective trauma due to colonialism is deep in North America. Learning about the Native American/First Nations’ Peace and Dignity Journeys was so interesting and made me want to help that cause. There were some gems in this book, including the following excerpts: After his run, Noe wonders the following about his mother’s decision to come to America: “Thirty years later, in Yakima, when I see my mother sit in church, her parents now deceased, her milky white heads clasped together in prayer, I kneel beside her, wondering if she thinks it was worth it all.” (P. 89) During his run, Noe thinks the following: “But unlike any other labor, running relieves me of the weight that I should become better than my parents, my people. I still don’t know that is okay to be unexceptional, ordinary, unremarkable. That there is greatness and pride in being common, so to speak. But I am learning to believe that it is okay to be flawed, imperfect.” (P. 96) “We continue to slip in and out of society like ghosts in the night, connecting hearts and minds with the and and the many tribal peoples who cross our paths every single day carrying the heavy thread of the prayers of hundreds of individuals. We run through the landscapes that are referred to by their original Native names. Reinvoking the the power of a name. Landscapes that start to take the the form of our traumas and offer some healing.” (P. 102) “For longer than I can remember, I was ashamed of who I was. I was ashamed for having no real sense of place or home, and it has taken this run across North America to learn that home is everywhere in movement. It is in my many steps that I explore my emotional replies to the land, different from how I experienced them as a small boy in the apple orchards where people like my parents were exploited for the cheap labor. I left that land thinking I’d never return to it for the stigma....I ran away, knowing that I would do so with love, not fear....Confronting the unfamiliar and integrating the beauty of life with my very being.” (P. 138). “I now know that every bit of earth contains the sacredness of another person’s existence” (p. 196)...this one may be my favorite line! The only reason it’s not four stars is the writing. There is no cadence to it, and there are places where it was great and others that you had to read multiple times to make sure you were understanding it. This, however, would be an editor’s fault more so than the author. In all, I liked it and learned quite a bit.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mike Dennisuk

    Noe Alvarez’s Spirit Run is a beautiful little memoir about one man’s search for meaning. This more about a spiritual journey than a “running book”. His story is that of a child born of immigrant parents struggling to find his identity. Beautifully told.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This book really opened my eyes about immigrants and the extremely hard work they do to better the lived for their children. Moe does well himself and earns a full scholarship to college but a group that came and gave a speech had him leaving college and going on a 6000 run. He feels he learned a lot about himself and what his parents did for him on this run. I don’t for the life of me understand how and why people run or walk incredible mileage while in severe pain. But it was an interesting bo This book really opened my eyes about immigrants and the extremely hard work they do to better the lived for their children. Moe does well himself and earns a full scholarship to college but a group that came and gave a speech had him leaving college and going on a 6000 run. He feels he learned a lot about himself and what his parents did for him on this run. I don’t for the life of me understand how and why people run or walk incredible mileage while in severe pain. But it was an interesting book and I recommend it.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.