After tonight, we'll be done touching our Spirit Bear. Aren't you excited? I know I am!

The last chapter ended with Peter inviting Cole to come into the cabin. Once inside, Cole makes like a sort of mother hen making hot chocolate like they're all friends here now. Cole has turned from an annoying bastard of a character to a piece of cardboard. He's walking around and saying things like, "And this is the pond and what I learned from it, now you try it too." Insert cheesy drugged looking smile here. Or one of those... Stepford wives. He's now a Stepford Cole.

Peter asks when he's going to see the Spirit Bear and Cole tells him that he'll see it when it's the right time. Peter says he doesn't believe in the Spirit Bear, Cole says he didn't either. After this, Peter starts abusing Cole. He'd walk over Cole's sleeping bag with muddy boots or knock down his jacket, leaving the door open etc. Then one day, Peter defaces Cole's totem by getting rid of his spirit bear. Cole is very hurt about this. He liked his spirit bear. Peter challenges him, saying "what are you going to do about it? Hurt me?"

Stepford Cole says that he's not going to do that and instead suggest that Peter carve his own totem. Peter, who has taken over Cole's role as the young man with anger issues wants to know why he would carve a totem pole. He gives in though and helps get the log. He asks what he should carve, and Cole asks what was the last animal he saw. Peter saw a mouse.

Cole smiled. "The tonight we'll dance the mouse dance, and tomorrow you can carve a mouse."

"I'm not going to dance a dumb 'mouse dance'," Peter said, his voice thick with sarcasm.

"Every animal has something to teach us," Cole said. When Peter didn't answer, Cole motioned toward the trees. "Let's collect firewood for the dance."

Gee. Doesn't that exchange sound familiar? Where could I have heard that before? Why could it have been with Garvey, Edwin and Cole? GASP! I think so! Cole doesn't have an original thought here. He's mimicking exactly what Edwin told him and doing what Edwin did. There's nothing new here. He's not trying to put a new spin on it to help Peter. But you know what? It's still going to work. Because. No real reason, beyond because.

That night they dance the mouse dance. Cole learns that mice are survivors who make the best of their lots. Garvey learns that mice are often not noticed and see things others don't. Peter learns that he looks like a stupid dork. And THAT is the most honest thing I've read in this entire book. However, they go and carve their mice in the morning. Peter is apparently very good at carving. He makes a very realistic looking mouse. I, on the other hand, think that if Peter is as damaged as they say he is (which he hasn't shown any) his hand eye coordination should suck ass. Actually, now that I thought about it, no one has shown any sort of indication of pain from those traumatizing injuries. No mention of constant pain... or even pills to remedy the pain. I'm sure that they should be on some sort of medication or something. Cole admires Peter's mouse , saying his was very good and Peter says that his better than Cole's.

"It does," said Cole. "But carving a totem isn't competition. Saying your carving is like saying your feelings are better."

Peter smirked. "Mine are." He turned to Cole. "Did you really see a Spirit Bear?"

Cole nodded and told him how he had pulled a handful of white hair from the bear that mauled him and then thrown it away. "The only reason I always had to prove things was because I knew I was a liar," he said. "I threw the white hair away because I decided I was tired of lying." He paused and put his hand on his lap,"Besides I know that the Spirit Bear is always with me, just like my ancestors and anger." >.> Okay so that last bit wasn't there... but I couldn't help myself.

After lunch Peter wants to carve by himself. Garvey and Cole go for a walk and when they come back they discover that Peter has carved a new bear on Cole's totem. NO PETER DON'T GET SUCKED INTO IT! DON'T LET THEM TOUCH YOUR SPIRIT BEAR! *coughs* I mean, really, I'd just think that Cole was talking out of his ass, or on drugs, this entire time. I mean mouse dances and carving totems and not getting angry? Where'd Cole go? I mean, he didn't have much personality in the first place, but now he has none. Cole asks Peter to show him how to carve like that. Peter just sort of shrugs. Some how I don't think Peter would be capitulating like this. Of course we never got to know him, and he's been a total non-entity this entire book. Cole rarely thought about him, it was about Cole. And now that Peter is there, he still doesn't have any personality. He's just an angry young man. A stock character. A foil for Cole to gain redemption.

Time passes and one day Peter wants to go to the pond with Cole without Garvey. They walk and when they get to the pond Cole says that it's time that they were friends. Friends don't work that way. Unless you're in kindergarten. You don't say to someone, "Let's be friends". Friendship is something that is built over time. And with Peter and Cole's relationship? There shouldn't be any sort of friendship. Perhaps Peter not being afraid of Cole, but not being his friend. Peter pushes Cole into the water and tells him that he doesn't want to be his friend. Cole is so understanding, isn't he? When did that happen? I dunno.

Peter then beats on Cole. It's the most satisfying part of the book. He calls Cole a liar and stop talking to him and stuff. Cole takes it. He lets Peter beat on him. Peter doesn't smash Cole's head into a bloody pulp, unfortunately. Instead he stops eventually and starts to cry.

Cole says to him, "Peter, I'm not a bad person. I got mad at you 'cause I was really mad at myself. I thought y dad beat me because I was worthless." Cole paused. "The dances, carving the totem, carrying the ancestor rock, touching the Spirit Bear, it was all the same thing - it was finding out who I really was."

"You're a jerk," Peter sobbed. "That's what you are."

Cole fought back his own tears. "I'm part of some big circle that I don't understand. And so are you. Life, death, good and bad, everything is part of that circle. When I hurt you, I hurt myself too. I don't think I'll ever heal from what I did to you, but I'm sorry Peter. I really am sorry."

Cole then hugs Peter, who leans into him.

And then they see the Spirit Bear.

They're both touched by it.

Then they soak in the pond and roll rocks down the hill. As they're walking back, Cole tells Peter that they forgave each other and themselves. He then gives Peter the blanket. Peter is touched by this offer of trust and offers to help Cole carve the blank spot in his totem.

This is the end of the book:

For the next to hours Cole and Peter carved together. When they finished, Cole hollered for Garvey to come from the cabin and take a look at the nearly perfect circle that now complete the totem.

When Garvey joined the boys, he stared down at the log and at what they had carved. "You carved a perfect circle," he said, a soft smiling tugging at his lips. "Why a circle?"

Cole and Peter glanced nervously at each other, neither wanting to speak.

"Could it be because every part of a circle is both a beginning and an end?" Garvey asked. "And everything is one?"

Peter shrugged awkwardly and grinned at Cole. "A circle is all I could teach him to carve."

Cole smiled and nodded. "I'm a slow learner. But I'm working on it."

And then they all laughed, because it was the funniest thing ever. Just like at the end of those eighties cartoons. What a warm fuzzy feeling I got from reading this book. I just can't believe how much I've learned.

I noticed that the whole Cole's father subplot got completely dropped. We don't know what happens with the custody case or anything like that, which should have been a major point in the story. After all Cole is afraid to go back to him and everything. But this wasn't important because Cole and Peter made up and are now friends.

The only thing missing from this ending, to make it even more cliched, would be for the Spirit Bear to be peeking out from the woods.

My ending would be, "Rocks fall and everyone dies."

But I wasn't so lucky.

Still, I shall dance the dance of glee because it's done!

Touching Spirit Bear
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