Thursday, May 1, 2014
Ice Dogs, by Terry Lynn Johnson
Fourteen-year-old Victoria is one of Alaska's top junior mushers. She takes after her father, an award-winning musher who taught her everything she knows and who tragically died in a wilderness accident the previous year. Her mother, on the other hand, doesn't understand the love for dogsled racing.
So when Vicky qualifies for a big race, considers a new lead dog for her team, wants to look at the dogs her neighbor has for sale, and Mom turns thumbs down, Vicky hitches up six of her dogs and goes anyway. It's only thirty-five miles, and she'll be back by afternoon. Except she's hit by an unexpected blizzard. That, and she finds an injured boy about her age who has crashed his snowmobile. The extra passenger weighs her sled down, knows zero about the wilderness (having just moved from a big city), and is unwanted company in any case, but in trying to bring him home she gets hopelessly lost. The rest of the plot follows the humans and dogs as they fight to survive the all-but-unsurvivable.
The emotional story progresses, too, as Vicky slowly discovers that a greenhorn city-slicker might have some value as a human being after all, comes face to face with the way her father died, connects with her dog team in an even deeper way than before, and begins to imagine and have compassion for what her mother is going through now that she, too, is missing in the Alaskan wilderness during a terrible storm. Victoria is a prickly, snarky character whom I didn't always like, but found fully believable. Definitely recommended, especially for readers who love action but prefer some depth along with it.