Monday, January 01, 2018

True Grit! Avalanche! (Survivor Diaries) by Terry Lynn Johnson

We heard a muffled whump. We both froze and looked at each other. With growing horror, I saw the snow around us break away.

"Avalanche!" I screamed.

A big noise, like thunder, boomed. I felt the rumble. I glanced behind just in time to see the wall of snow begin to envelop me. Choking snow everywhere.

But Ashley's avalanche training kicks in as the snow buries her. She cups one hand over her nose to form an air pocket and sticks the other straight up. And when the avalanche stops, she realizes that she feels the cold wind on that arm. Breathing slowly, she claws her way up, getting her head above the snow, and fighting her way on top of the snow.

I stared at the hole I had just been in. That was almost my grave.

Ashley looks around for her twin brother, the one who always takes the lead, the one who beats her at everything. Surely Ryan was able to ski to the outside of the sliding snowfield.

There is an eerie quiet. She can't see her twin anywhere. But then Ashley sees Ryan's ski pole sticking out of the snow. Pain seers through her knee as she tries to crawl toward the pole.

My brother was buried under the snow!

Frantically Ashley digs through the snow and pulls Ryan out into the air. He's alive, with a huge bump on his head. But they are both alive.

"What do we do now?" I asked my brother.

"Who are you?" he asked.

Suddenly Ashley realizes that Ryan is too dazed to take charge the way he always does. If they are going to survive a night on the slope and find their way back to the trail, it's going to be up to her.

And Ashley knows what she has to do. She has to build a snowcave to keep them alive through the night and in the morning find a way to drag Ryan to the trail so that they can be rescued. She fashions a makeshift sled and struggles to roll Ryan onto it.

Sweat ran down my face, pooled in my shirt where the rope cut in into my waist. Keep going. Must not stop. Hot stabbing pulses ripped down my leg. Had to keep going. Our lives depended on it.

And it's going to take more strength than she ever knew she had in Terry Lynn Johnson's second book in the Survivor Diaries series, Avalanche! (Survivor Diaries) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), in which her heroine steps up to take the lead, drawing on the training and skills from her parents and instructors to know what to do. But saving herself and Ryan takes more than just Ashley's knowledge. It takes determination and perseverance, the ability to endure pain and keep going. Johnson's survival story is a real page-turner for young chapter-book readers which celebrates the love of siblings and the gritty character of a girl who learns that she has what it takes.

Author Johnson, herself an expert in dog sledding, skiing, and mountain rescue, tells an absorbing adventure story, even appending a section on Avalanche and Wilderness Survival and even the first chapter of her next Survivor Diary tile, Lost! (Survivor Diaries), forthcoming in 2018.

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