On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska.
Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness
Where nothing grows
Where no one lives
Where tears freeze
And night will last for another 54 days.
They are looking for Ruby's father.
Travelling deeper into a silent land.
They still cannot find him.
And someone is watching them in the dark.
I found this to be a real page turner, even though the storyline is very far fetched. It’s basically a human interest/ love story with a chilling twist.
It’s about Yasmin, who brings her deaf 10 year old daughter Ruby with her to Alaska, they are on their way to be re-united with Ruby’s Dad, the love of Yasmin’s life. Ruby hero worships her Father, a wildlife photographer, he treats her as an equal, communicating with sign language and an innate depth of understanding that brings them closer than Ruby feels with her Mum, who sometimes pressurizes Ruby to conform to the person Yasmin wants her to be. But the dynamics are about to change.
On arriving in Alaska Yasmin discovers that her husband is missing after a dreadful accident, and the police believe he is dead. Refusing to believe he is dead, she tells Ruby he is stuck in the snow and ice and off they set to try and find him. Careering chaotically into the frozen wastes of Alaska with no thought but “He can’t be dead” and “Who will look for him if we don’t?” Thrown together in this situation Ruby and Yasmin have to rely on each other for strength and its hard to work out which of the 2 is the stronger. Then there is the insidious realization that in this huge vast freezing wasteland they are not alone after all.
What follows is a cleverly constructed story with lots of contemporary, topical subjects, including coping with deafness and bringing up a deaf child, ice road trucking, wildlife photography, asylum seekers, CB radio, prejudice, and fracking. Bundle them all together and you get a story that’s unusually different and thought provoking.
I loved Ruby for me she is the best child narrator since Jack in Room. About half the book is written first person in her unique voice, one we are never likely to hear vocalized as she never speaks, communicating via sign language and text to voice apps on her laptop. I loved the way she “sees” words in colours and shapes and empathized with her, even if her unusual childhood has led to a wry precociousness which I found easy to overlook.
Ruby is an engaging and unlikely heroine, Yasmin is pretty darned unbelieveable, I know you’d go to the ends of the earth for a loved one but she must be some kind of superhuman because I sure as hell couldn’t tackle what she does.
A lot of the story is set in the cab of a massive heavy haul truck on ice roads, but it doesn’t get boring, we are treated to flashbacks in Yasmin’s and Ruby’s lives and there are some really great characters I wanted to learn more about, like Coby, and Adeeb.
Overall it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read, tense and chilling in more ways than one, with just a touch of the soapbox in the protestations about fracking, although it certainly made me think twice about this subject.
My thanks go to Netgalley for my review copy.