First in his family to go to college (and first to flunk out after one hard-partying semester in Anchorage), Eddie lands a job as a reporter in Kusko, Alaska, for a year—because what can go wrong in a remote town inaccessible by road?
Eddie, 18 and white, grew up with Minnesota winters; in high school he wrote sports stories for the town paper, but Kusko (Alaskans will know it as Bethel) is colder and the work is nonstop. He’s billeted with Dalton, his editor and boss (and also white), and tasked with feeding and cleaning up after the sled dogs. In return, Dalton teaches Eddie to mush and pays to fly in Eddie’s beloved truck from Anchorage (there’s nowhere to drive to). Eddie befriends easygoing Finn, a Yup’ik, pot-dealing neighbor, and pursues Taylor—she’s Yup’ik, Italian, and Swedish—high school valedictorian, whose rebuffs prove more than embarrassing. Frustrated and bored, Eddie hatches a plan to raise money, quit early, and return to Anchorage: combine reporting duties with selling weed outside Kusko, but tall and blond—plus cocky, impulsive, and clueless about the drug trade—he’s quickly detected by dealers whose territory he’s poaching. (Set in 2010, the novel omits the state’s complex legal history with marijuana, including legalization in 1998 for medical use.) If occasionally melodramatic, this coming-of-age debut is a sharply observed journey through seldom-explored territory.
Raunchy, funny, fast-paced; for those looking to hook male teen readers, your work is done. (author interview) (Historical fiction. 14-18)