Gary Paulsen's book Woodsong is not a novel but a memoir, meaning that it is true and not a fictional story. His real problem is that his parents provide no care, no love, no support for their son. At the beginning, Paulsen details what his troubled life is like as a young man living with alcoholic parents. Paulsen runs away from home at fourteen years old, unable to stay with his parents any longer. The northern Minnesota woods were his salvation where he could hide from his parents, live in the woods hunting and trapping for food, and be himself. The second part of the book is about Gary running his first Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska. Dogs have been a part of his life for a long time, and the Alaskan race is the biggest in sled-dog racing. He details what it is like to be on the race trail, worried about his dogs and especially his lead dog, worried about moose attacks, thinking about how to protect his dogs and do well in the race. Paulsen reveals himself to the reader through both sides of the book and his deep attachment to survival in the outdoors.