Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Unlike many authors who deal with the subject of teen suicide, Patricia Calvert downplays the events leading up to the suicide attempt and focuses her attention on the healing process as Jake Matthiesen learns to accept himself and take responsibility for his life. Unable to talk to his father, a successful Minneapolis lawyer who Jake claims is a living legend, and convinced he cannot be the kind of son who would make his father proud, Jake attempts suicide with his great-grandfather’s old pistol, which he finds in the attic. Jake’s father decides that the suicide attempt resulted from a combination of the pressures of living in a large metropolitan area and association with the wrong companions. After Jake’s recovery from his wound, his father sends him to live with Dr. Win Smalley in Anchorage, Alaska, where he hopes that Jake will learn self-sufficiency or, as Jake believes, become a son of which his father could be proud. Leaving his successful father, his high-society mother, and his preppy sister, Jake continues to be haunted by self-doubt when he first arrives in Alaska.

Jake’s life takes on a positive quality when he is befriended by Danny Yumiat, a popular Athabascan student who seems to be everything Jake would like to be. Danny asks Jake to work as his dog handler while he prepares to run the Iditarod Dog Sled Race, a 1,049-mile race from Anchorage to Nome. Before he can run the race, however, Danny dies in an apparent accident when he and one of his dogs fall through a...

(The entire section is 613 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

This is a novel where the setting is much more than just background scenery. From the intimidating mountain ranges to the icy plains of the...

(The entire section is 182 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The greatest appeal of The Hour of the Wolf lies in the atmosphere of the Alaskan wilderness and the exciting race that pits man...

(The entire section is 228 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The theme of suicide may be considered controversial for a teen novel, but Patricia Calvert handles it with honesty and sensitivity. Teen...

(The entire section is 112 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. What did Jake try to accomplish with his participation in the Iditarod race? And whom did he try to impress—his father, Kamina, or...

(The entire section is 153 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. When Jake first visits Kamina, he is introduced to the people of her village. Patricia Calvert uses Nyotek as an example of the problems...

(The entire section is 177 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Most of Patricia Calvert's books deal with a relationship between humans and animals. The Money Creek Mare is the story of a teenage...

(The entire section is 123 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Coppinger, Lorna. The World of Sled Dogs. New York: Howell Book House, 1977: 197. This is a comprehensive guide to all aspects of...

(The entire section is 35 words.)