I hesitant to offer an honest review of a Sherman Alexie work. I posted a critical review of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian on Amazon.com a couple of years ago, and I was excoriated for it, evidental because I am not a “brown person” or that I have no understand of Indians. (Read my review and the follow-up comments here). I’m starting to think that Alexie is one of those authors that you cannot criticize without impunity. However…
Flight has an excellent premise: a lost, lonely half-Indian teenager meets a Jesus-like young man in a youth detention facility, and he begins to time travel through important events in America’s Indian history. From both sides of the U.S. Calvary, to an FBI agent in Red River, to his own father, Zits gains a larger perspective of who he is, and what comprises the Native American in modern society.
Alexie creatively inserts some aspect of “flight” in each of the narratives, whether flying through time, airplanes, or running away, Flight uses flight as a symbol to describe Indians, teenagers, orphans, or all three.
Some of the time stops seemed out of place, or simply were dull. Jimmy the pilot was one what did not add to the story (other than to discuss adultery and a departing wife?), and it seemed to take up too much of the story.
Midway into the book, I predicted some cliché parts, such as time-traveling into his own father (as if that was to be a surprise?), the foster home at the end, and even the last line of the book. All too predictable and plain.
I still count myself as a Sherman Alexie fan. Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Reservation Blues, and Ten Little Indians are all wonderful. I love both of Alexie’s movies, and I’ll even buy his newest book, War Dances. But, Flight and Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian are both common stories that do not stand out as unique, no matter who the author is.