Fourteen-year-old Victoria Secord loves nothing more than her 16 Alaskan huskies. Like her dad, she loves racing, and she races to win. But after her father’s untimely death, Vicky and her mom are at odds. Vicky could never leave Alaska, but her mom keeps talking about moving back to Seattle.

Vicky is convincingly portrayed as a strong and spunky heroine who never flinches at taking responsibility for herself. When she takes off, hooking up her dogsled team without telling anyone, the routine outing takes a perilous turn, and a four-hour trek becomes a harrowing six-day battle for survival.

When she comes upon a snowmobile twisted around a tree, she uses everything her dad taught her to save the life of its only occupant, Chris, a “citified” boy who Vicky decides has no right to be out in the woods at all.

Vicky and Chris’ relationship evolves as they face hunger, hypothermia, wild animals and icy waters. As the story deftly skirts the line between teenage awkwardness and a looming closeness, they huddle together for warmth, snare rabbits for food and eventually find a trapper’s cabin that provides comfort and a brief respite from the snow.

Readers will feel empowered by Vicky’s boldness and will sympathize with her sadness over the loss of her father, her determination to make him proud and her first inklings of romance with her newfound friend.

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