Spirit Run
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 an Indigenous marathon from Canada to Guatemala, reimagining North America and his place in it.Growing up in Yakima, Washington, Noé Álvarez worked at an apple-packing plant alongside his mother, who “slouched over a conveyor belt of fruit, shoulder to shoulder with mothers conditioned to believe this was all they could do with their lives.” A university scholarship offered escape, but as a first-generation Latino college-goer, Álvarez struggled to fit in.At nineteen, he learned about a Native American/First Nations movement called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, epic marathons meant to renew cultural connections across North America. He dropped out of school and joined a group of Dené, Secwépemc, Gitxsan, Dakelh, Apache, Tohono O’odham, Seri, Purépecha, and Maya runners, all fleeing difficult beginnings. Telling their stories alongside his own, Álvarez writes about a four-month-long journey from Canada to Guatemala that pushed him to his limits. He writes not only of overcoming hunger, thirst, and fear―dangers included stone-throwing motorists and a mountain lion―but also of asserting Indigenous and working-class humanity in a capitalist society where oil extraction, deforestation, and substance abuse wreck communities.Running through mountains, deserts, and cities, and through the Mexican territory his parents left behind, Álvarez forges a new relationship with the land, and with the act of running, carrying with him the knowledge of his parents’ migration, and―against all odds in a society that exploits his body and rejects his spirit―the dream of a liberated future.

Spirit Run Details

TitleSpirit Run
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 3rd, 2020
PublisherCatapult
ISBN-139781948226462
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Travel, Biography

Spirit Run Review

  • Olive
    January 1, 1970
    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 arent 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.
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  • Kerry
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Never Without a Book
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars super quick read. Full RTC .
  • Sophie
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Chris LaTray
    January 1, 1970
    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 livingnot just outside of, but ostracized bythe mainstream as part of a community that is at the same time a key element of the infrastructure the entire bloody 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.
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Jessie
    January 1, 1970
    Noé Álvarezs 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.
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  • Meri
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Alison
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Catapult
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    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?!
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Dave Feldmann
    January 1, 1970
    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!"
  • Nate Hawthorne
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Alycia
    January 1, 1970
    I loved Noés 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. 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.
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  • Paul Womack
    January 1, 1970
    This is not an idealized memoir of the ease of running, but rather an honest reflection on the search for pride in ones 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. 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.
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  • Mike Dennisuk
    January 1, 1970
    Noe Alvarezs Spirit Run is a beautiful little memoir about one mans 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. 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.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful
  • Jesus Castaneda
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a well written memoir which offers readers with the inner thoughts, feelings, emotions and rationalizations from of the perspective of a son of immigrants in a farm working/fruit packing working class community.As the reader quickly progresses though the book, the reader is transported on the shoulder of the author as he grapples with complex emotions and thoughts in understanding not only his place in the world, but understanding his place in the world though the people and This book is a well written memoir which offers readers with the inner thoughts, feelings, emotions and rationalizations from of the perspective of a son of immigrants in a farm working/fruit packing working class community.As the reader quickly progresses though the book, the reader is transported on the shoulder of the author as he grapples with complex emotions and thoughts in understanding not only his place in the world, but understanding his place in the world though the people and landscape around him. From this perspective, the readers is introduced to an array of personalities and experiences and he embarks on a spiritual journey to better understand the world and landscape around him and his place within it.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    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 dont for the life of me understand how and why people run or walk incredible mileage while in severe pain. But it was an interesting 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.
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  • Wendy
    January 1, 1970
    I received a PRC of Spirit Run from NetGalley. I was really looking forward to reading about this epic journey, called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, which was a run of indigenous peoples from Canada to Guatemala. The author sees himself destined to a life of hard, meaningless work and joins the run hoping to find something meaningful. It's a tough journey filled with physical pain as well as emotional and interpersonal strife. It's an easy read and interesting, but I couldn't help but feel I received a PRC of Spirit Run from NetGalley. I was really looking forward to reading about this epic journey, called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, which was a run of indigenous peoples from Canada to Guatemala. The author sees himself destined to a life of hard, meaningless work and joins the run hoping to find something meaningful. It's a tough journey filled with physical pain as well as emotional and interpersonal strife. It's an easy read and interesting, but I couldn't help but feel that a little better editing would have improved the flow of the story. I'd love to know what Noé is doing with himself now.
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  • Patricia
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book on Goodreads. While I am not under any obligation to review it, I do so, as a thank you for it being offered. Having being given the opportunity to read it for free does not have any effect on my review. I won this book on Goodreads. While I am not under any obligation to review it, I do so, as a thank you for it being offered. Having being given the opportunity to read it for “free” does not have any effect on my review.
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  • Conde
    January 1, 1970
    Highly recommend this book for those who are interested in Indigenous Studies, as well as running.
  • Suzi
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting story but I simply cannot imagine running like that. Incredible endurance.
  • Suzy
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Catapult for this NetGalley of Spirit Run: A 6,000 Mile Marathon Through North Americas Stolen Land.Noé Álvarez is the son of Mexican immigrants in California. At nineteen, he felt like he had been struggling to live up to the expectations that were placed on him by his family and himself, and joined the 2004 Peace and Dignity Journey (PDJ). Through the Peace & Dignity Journeys, numerous and diverse indigenous nations reunite and reclaim dignity for their families and Thank you to Catapult for this NetGalley of Spirit Run: A 6,000 Mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land.Noé Álvarez is the son of Mexican immigrants in California. At nineteen, he felt like he had been struggling to live up to the expectations that were placed on him by his family and himself, and joined the 2004 Peace and Dignity Journey (PDJ). “Through the Peace & Dignity Journeys, numerous and diverse indigenous nations reunite and reclaim dignity for their families and communities.” (peaceanddignity.net) Spirit Run is the story of Álvarez’s endurance and faith, and how this ultra-marathon helped him come to terms with his identity, his heritage, and the world around him.The beginning of this book described his brief experience working in the fruit industry alongside his parents: his dad picking fruit from the orchards, while Álvarez works alongside his mother at a fruit packing factory. He includes poignant reflections about working-class life and his parents’ struggles to give him a better life than they had. Álvarez’s talent really shines during these ruminations.However, the writing style completely shifted once he started the PDJ, beginning to tell the reader summaries of what had happened, rather than showing the events as they played out. The bulk of the book was comprised of his daily life on this journey, written in a very matter-of-fact way. The presentation of each new location in the journey from Alaska to Guatemala felt formulaic: information was provided about his surroundings and the challenging landscapes or conflicts of the day, then one of his running mates or hosts would be quoted, then he presented his lessons or reflections. I didn’t feel like I was actually there with the runners. I wish that there had been more descriptions of the terrain, his inner thoughts, or realistic depictions of his day-to-day interactions and conversations.I feel grateful to have learned about this marathon and the spiritual journey that it facilitated. I imagine that it was challenging to write a book about this experience, especially about events that happened around 15 years ago. The runners were mostly solitary, and the whole journey was unimaginably physically and emotionally demanding. Álvarez describes a shocking amount of bullying, infighting, and street harassment. But, unfortunately, I finished this book wishing for more.
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  • Bennjamin
    January 1, 1970
    Spirit Run is a nonfiction memoir of a young man who grew up in Yakima, Washington who undertakes a monumental run as part of the 6,000 mile Peace and Dignity Journey which allows members of indigenous tribes to run from Canada through the United States and into the heart of Mexico, where Alvarezs family was originally from. The son of working class migrants, Noe had anything but an easy childhood. As he runs through forests, mountains, deserts, and cities, he embarks on a journey to trace his Spirit Run is a nonfiction memoir of a young man who grew up in Yakima, Washington who undertakes a monumental run as part of the 6,000 mile Peace and Dignity Journey which allows members of indigenous tribes to run from Canada through the United States and into the heart of Mexico, where Alvarez’s family was originally from. The son of working class migrants, Noe had anything but an easy childhood. As he runs through forests, mountains, deserts, and cities, he embarks on a journey to trace his roots and discover who he really is. In a world that is built to break him down, Noe seeks to build himself up and find out who he is at the core. I heard a really great interview on NPR with Noe, which is why I picked up this book. I had really high hopes after such an interesting interview. As he embarked on the tale of a 4 month long odyssey from Canada to Guatemala, I was interested in learning more about both his culture and his reason for running. Unfortunately I found it a little flat and I was not able to make a connection to it like I can with other books I’ve read recently. But at the same time I realized it’s not about what I think. This book is more about empathy and trying to take a step away from white privilege and into the shoes of a bunch of beaten down brown bodies who are seeking to reclaim their identity and dignity in today’s world. This is not a book about running. It’s a book about belonging and enduring hate, rejection, struggle, and a loss of identity. We push everyone to conform and then wonder why they are so quick to give up their cultural heritage. America claims to be a melting pot, but in reality we seek to be a bleached, white bread wondering who would ever identify as anything else. I think I will give this a second read. There’s more to this story than meets the eye. Kudos to Alvarez for trying to tell the story of migrant struggle in a time when most of us only have to worry about what to stream on Netflix.
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  • Mark Magee
    January 1, 1970
    This prose like book was beautifully written, interweaving and contrasting vignettes of a lonely childhood with the realities of daily life, truth, and catharsis on the run the author began in far northern Canada, that took him to Central America. Like a coming of age story, the author in the beginning is a wounded and confused young man. The run he does is more challenging emotionally and physically than anything many of us endure. But he seems to become himself, his destined person from the This prose like book was beautifully written, interweaving and contrasting vignettes of a lonely childhood with the realities of daily life, truth, and catharsis on the run the author began in far northern Canada, that took him to Central America. Like a coming of age story, the author in the beginning is a wounded and confused young man. The run he does is more challenging emotionally and physically than anything many of us endure. But he seems to become himself, his destined person from the first step forward. Running can be such a metaphor for journeying, pilgrimage, and self discovery, and we watch the author do these things as the story goes on.I loved reading this book. So much of it resonates the various truths about life: its messy, relationships are complicated, heroes have hubris, history is lost to us at times, hardship forms us, and yet there is growth, joy, love too. That we are never finished growing, and never finished becoming our true selves is another gem-message to be gleaned in the book. I loved learning the Native names, places, eras, and cultural traditions. I was saddened by harsh reality of our racism in all of its forms and ways that Natives have suffered from and do continue to suffer from.
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