Review: Time travel in Sherman Alexie's 'Flight'
"The year is 2007; the hero, a throwaway kid named Zits. Half-Native American, half- Irish, an orphan since the age of 6, Zits is a self-proclaimed blank sky, a solar eclipse. He inherited his mother's green eyes and his father's acne. At 15, he has lived in 20 different foster homes, gone to 22 different schools and owns just enough clothing to fill a backpack. Then one day, looking for revenge, he takes a trip back in time and gets a chance at redemption. Where H.G. Wells used a time machine and Jack Finney used hypnosis, Sherman Alexie uses a gun as a mode of transport in his entertaining new novel, Flight.

The story opens as Zits wakes up in yet another foster home, has a stare-down contest with his brutish foster father, shoves his whiney foster mother and ends up in juvie, the routine as familiar to him as sunrise. In jail, he meets a wise and well-read white boy, Justice, who apologizes for his race's aggression toward Native Americans and encourages Zits to perform a Ghost Dance, dancing the white people away. Once out of jail, Justice gives Zits two guns, one real, one paint, and Zits ghost dances in a bank, where he gets shot in the head. At the moment of impact, his journey through time begins. Zits's odyssey is actually a vision quest on which he learns that revenge is bloody painful.

Landing in 1975, Zits inhabits the body of FBI agent Hank Storm and finds himself suddenly sympathetic with the law as he confronts two traitorous members of a Native American group called Indigenous Rights Now, who have gruesomely tortured a young warrior for not revealing some mysterious and unspecified secrets. Sickened, Zits/Storm falls unconscious, wakes three days later, meets his wife, Mrs. Storm, kisses her and realizes he would kill for her kisses. That thought transports him again, and he lands in a real Indian camp, where Crazy Horse and his band await Custer. Zits witnesses the carnage of Custer's Last Stand through the eyes of a young Indian child and finds he's losing his stomach for revenge.

He time-travels several more times, and each trip presents moral dilemmas. He becomes the linchpin for the slaughter of children, innocently befriends a suicide bomber and finally inhabits his own absentee father."

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Time-traveling Boy (The Washington Post 4/15)

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