Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Dogs of Winter by Bobbie Pyron

This is a very chilling story about abandoned children in post-Soviet Russia who grow up on the streets.  What makes it even more chilling is the fact that it is based on a true story...

Arthur A Levine Books, a division of Scholastic, and Net Galley allowed me to download an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It will be published October 1st, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

First Ivan's grandmother dies.  His mother has a hard time dealing with her grief and eventually brings home a man.  That makes things even worse for Ivan.  When his mother goes missing, he's pretty sure she's dead.  The man won't answer him about it and tells him he's taking him to an orphanage, but Ivan gets away.  Ivan's not going to an orphanage; he's going to wait for his mother to come and get him, even if he's in a different city now.  It takes a while before he gives up hope.

He attempts living on the street but if finds it better to be with a pack of children that stick together and beg money for the leader, Rudy.  One day, he notices some dogs traveling together on the train.  They get off at a particular stop and head to their home.  He finds himself interested in them and where they stay and how they survive.  When the streets become too dangerous to live on in the winter months, Ivan's solution is to join the dogs.

How he lives and what he does is similar to Mowgli being raised by wolves in the jungle, but this is Ivan in the snow and ice of a Russian winter with no easily available food.

I have read about the tough times for children in the UK, but this was the first time I read a book that focused on Russia.  The story isn't much different regardless of country it takes place in, but ice and snow would be a killer for me.  Ivan sleeps with the pack so he doesn't get hypothermia.  And he eats things I'd only eat if I were starving.  Of course, he was, so I should be more understanding.

The interplay with the dogs is realistic.  They do consider a human part of their pack and they will share food with you.

This is a story of survival.  When everyone else has turned their backs on you and you have no one who cares if you live or die, who would you turn to?

1 comment:

Shan said...

I am amazed at what some will do to survive. Where does this instinct come from? Am definitely adding this book to my to find and to read list. Thanks for reviewing it, otherwise I might never have heard of it.