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Noé Álvarez - Spirit Run - POSTPONED, date TBA

"Spirit Run"

April 30, 2020, 7 p.m.

The Montvale Event Center

The electrifying debut memoir of a son of working-class Mexican immigrants who fled a life of labor in fruit-packing plants in Yakima, WA to run in a Native American marathon from Canada to Guatemala, challenging himself to reimagine 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.

While his parents immigrated to give Álvarez a better life, his father memorably tells him to “Never be like me. Like any of this. Get out while you can.” Escape presents itself in the form of an acceptance letter to Whitman College, but he soon feels out of place there as a first-generation Latino student. After dropping out, he flies to British Columbia to join the Peace and Dignity Journeys, a group of about a dozen Native American/First Nations runners who have embarked on an epic, 6,000-mile trek from Alaska to Panama. Together, they sprint through lands that were stolen from their ancestors, encountering mountain lions, stone-throwing motorcyclists, and more danger and turbulence along the four-month slog. In electric prose, Álvarez writes of returning home and forging a new connection with the land and its communities: “I grow excited at the thought of becoming reacquainted with my relatives that are the land and the trees.” This literary tour de force beautifully combines outdoor adventure with a sharp take on immigration.