Local writer Noé Álvarez released a debut book in March 2020that has captivated readers with its unique insights. “Spirit Runner: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land” is a 213-page memoir published by Catapult Books. In it, the 2003 graduate of Davis High School explores the dynamics of race and class through engaging storytelling.
Álvarez candidly reflects on growing up as the son of Mexican-American immigrant parents, with whom he worked in the warehouses and fields from age 10. He was also a dedicated student, and received a full-ride scholarship to college.
Despite his excitement, the author writes that he struggled to find a sense of belonging and purpose at school. This spurred a profound act of soul searching. He joined a group of Indigenous American runners on an epic run down the West Coast, from Canada to Guatemala. Along the way, he developed deeper appreciation for the wisdom of the communities that shaped his life, without romanticizing the hardships they faced.
“Spirit Run” is a refreshing read. By reflecting the complex nature of his experiences and struggles, Álvarez questions the promise of “the American Dream” that hard work inevitably leads to success.
The book honestly presents the challenges of understanding oneself. In particular, it focuses on reconciling the generational trauma and cultural traditions of immigrants and Native Americans.
Because these issues have roots far beyond the reach of one person or social movement, the book doesn’t aim to resolve them. Rather, “Spirit Run” undertakes the important task of raising awareness and empathy.