Dog Driven by Terry Lynn Johnson

Dog Driven by Terry Lynn JohnsonDog Driven by Terry Lynn Johnson
Published by Clarion Books
Published on 3 December 2019
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Contemporary, Social Issues, United States, Young Adult
Pages: 229
Format: Hardcover
Source: my local library
Add to Goodreads
Publisher page

From the author of Ice Dogs comes a riveting adventure about a musher who sets out to prove her impaired vision won't hold her back from competing in a rigorous sled race through the Canadian wilderness. Perfect for fans of Gary Paulsen.
McKenna Barney is trying to hide her worsening eyesight and has been isolating herself for the last year. But at the request of her little sister, she signs up for a commemorative mail run race in the Canadian wilderness—a race she doesn’t know if she can even see to run.    Winning would mean getting her disease—and her sister’s—national media coverage, but it would also pit McKenna and her team of eight sled dogs against racers from across the globe for three days of shifting lake ice, sudden owl attacks, snow squalls, and bitterly cold nights.
 A page-turning adventure about living with disability and surviving the wilderness, Dog Driven is the story of one girl’s self-determination and the courage it takes to trust in others.

I have been dealing with the passing of my beloved sweetheart kitty, so I wanted to bury myself in a book about beloved animals. My first thought was, what’s better than the reliable companionship of a sled dog? So I sought out this book from my local library.

This boo is about a 14 year old girl who enters a commemorative sled dog race/mail run to gain media attention to a rare eyesight condition called Stargadt’s disease that affects her little sister. Unbeknown to anyone else, the lead character, McKenna, is also experiencing the first stages of this disease, which makes racing in white snow with bright sun difficult. The race is over Canadian wilderness following an old mail run, and the competitors each have a mail bag of real letters to deliver. McKenna makes some friend who have their own reasons for racing: one girl needs to win to gain freedom from her Dance Moms-esque father, and a sweet boy with a blind lead doggo needs to win to gain a contract with Amazon Delivery.

The book really odes throw you deep into the world of dog sledding, and I learned a lot of the lingo, concepts, and traditions. The book also includes some historical excerpts from old letters allegedly delivered during the run, demonstrating how dangerous the wilderness was 200 years ago and how it’s still tough today. It’s a shorter book because there’s only so many ways racing through snow can be written, but that’s okay, because it helped deliver a faster pace with shorter chapters.

I really liked McKenna’s motivation. At first she’s not very keen to race a unfamiliar route, especially when she can’t seen maps and has to rely on her dogs so much, but then when she confesses to her sister about her eyesight, her sister basically blackmails her into racing because of the media attention the disease would get if she won.

McKenna made some friends along the way and was even forced to take shelter in a cave with a boy who was clearly sweet on her, which fulfilled some expectations I had about racing in snow.

One issue I had was that I wish more time had been dedicated to each dog’s personality, and challenges they were overcoming. I can’t even remember the doggo’s names, which is really sad. I read another sled dog book right after this one and in comparison it was just so much MORE, so I’m afraid that affects my rating.

Overall I thought this book was brilliantly written, the changing motivations of each character was clearly defined, and as it was written by an actual musher, I feel like it must be accurate to the sled racing experience. I really enjoyed it. It was a really great book to read over a couple of quiet winter evenings.


About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,833 other subscribers