By: J.A. Cooper
Genre: YFB - General fiction
Published by: MidnightSun Publishing
Published: 1 Sep 2022
ISBN: 9780987380975


‘It’s a wicked cold, the Alaska winter, and can kill a man in a second…’

Nearing 15, Zac Greene travels to Alaska to re-connect with the father he’s only ever known from a distance. But Zac’s dad is a lone wolf – a wounded soul who’d rather drown his regrets in a bottle of bourbon than confront the mistakes of his past. As Zac struggles to earn his father’s approval, things spiral out of control forcing Zac to take his chances with the Alaskan winter.

Whatever hope remains for father and son quickly fades, as Zac is forced to hitchhike to escape the hostile weather and soon finds himself sharing a remote cabin with a total stranger… and his gun.

‘They say you don’t know your enemies from your friends until the ice breaks beneath your feet…’

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Fourteen-year-old Zac is fed up with his Mum spending all of her time on her PHD, so he asks if he can spend two weeks of Christmas with his Dad in Alaska.

But Zac has had very little contact with his Dad since Zac and his Mum left years earlier, and things don’t work out as planned. His Dad runs a team of sled dogs for tourists, not very successfully, and is a lonely man who finds solace at the bottom of a bourbon bottle. He constantly belittles Zac but things get worse when in a drunken stupor he beats him.

Deciding that enough is enough Zac embarks on the journey home, alone. With little protection from the weather and little experience in these freezing conditions, Zac is soon in trouble. He is convinced that accepting a lift from a gun-toting stranger named Stanley is going to bring about his demise - surely this crazy man is out to murder him!

After deciding he has no choice but to accept a lift, the weather turns worse and they have to hole up in a cabin for a couple of days. Zac is terrified, but it is here that Stanley gives Zac many words of wisdom and makes him see his Dad from a different perspective.

I loved Stanley and the advice that he gave Zac about making better decisions for himself. With themes of existing in a harsh environment, survival, family and coming to terms with your world as you journey through adolescence, this is a terrific novel for lower to middle secondary students.

Reviewed by Rob