Cole is the 15-year-old protagonist of the novel. Cole is unspeakably angry, and to deal with his anger, he takes it out on everyone around him. This is why he commits crimes—he’s been getting in… read analysis of Cole Matthews
Peter is a skinny, redheaded ninth grader whom Cole violently beats up when Peter tattles to adults that Cole robbed and trashed a hardware store. Following the beating, Peter suffers a permanent limp, has memory… read analysis of Peter Driscal
Edwin is the Tlingit elder who facilitates Cole’s banishment on a remote Alaskan island after Cole assaults Peter. He’s a potbellied, quiet man with a look that seems consistently calm and knowing. Edwin… read analysis of Edwin
Garvey is Cole’s parole officer after Cole is arrested for assaulting Peter. Garvey is built like a bulldog and annoys Cole, since he’s unwaveringly friendly, visits all the time, and seems to see… read analysis of Garvey
Cole’s mom is a timid woman who, in the year before the novel begins, divorced Cole’s dad. At first, Cole resents his mother. He thinks of her as a timid, mouse-like woman who’s… read analysis of Cole’s Mom
Nathaniel Blackwood is the lawyer whom Cole’s dad hires to defend Cole after he assaults Peter. Blackwood is a stiff man who, in Cole’s opinion, must starch his underwear, judging by just how… read analysis of Nathaniel Blackwood
Rosey is the nurse who cares for Cole after he’s mauled by the Spirit Bear. She’s the only—and according to Garvey, the best—nurse in the small Alaskan village of Drake. She’s short, has… read analysis of Rosey
Peter’s lawyer is a middle-aged woman. Though Cole never describes what she looks like except to note that she’s about his parents age, he hates her. This is understandable—Peter’s lawyer is dismissive and wholly… read analysis of Peter’s Lawyer
Judge Tanner is the judge assigned to Cole’s case. He attends Circle Justice meetings.
The Keeper is the woman who facilitates the Circle Justice meetings in Minneapolis.
Mr. Driscal is Peter’s father. He’s very protective of his son.
Mrs. Driscal is Peter’s mother.