Moderow briskly recounts her experiences in the brutally challenging Iditarod race, a journey that requires “passion, dedication to learning, and an immense amount of patience,” not to mention “the collaboration of many beating hearts.”
The author’s memoir proceeds by leaps and bounds, now in forward, now in reverse, in Connecticut, Vermont, and Wyoming, but mostly on the snowy, icy, windy mushing trails of Alaska. Moderow recounts how her parents nurtured in her their adventurous streak—not wild but zestful. After graduating from Princeton and a brief stint as a paralegal in Manhattan, the author moved to Wyoming, where she had her heart broken and decided to move yet farther west and north to Alaska. There, she met her future husband and had children but also fell into a deep depression. Then she became familiar with sled dogs, and her life changed. Moderow touchingly describes her life’s transformations, including the deaths of her parents and the lasting ramifications of slipping silently into a glacial crevasse. As the memoir’s larger picture takes on shape, the author threads into the narrative the stories of her two Iditarods (in 2003 and 2005), tales of great intensity and fraught progress leavened with light farce and moments where readers may ask, what was she thinking? Moderow understates the sheer roughness of the endeavor, but she engagingly chronicles one wind-blasted, aching-cold day after another, long, slippery runs and crashes on black ice, and injuries that were likely more painful than she lets on. The author also faced the treachery (or wisdom?) of her dogs: “‘Let’s go!’ I call. No one budges. Two by two they sit on defiant haunches….The dogs won’t press on and they won’t turn back.” The 2005 race went more smoothly, though the dogs engaged in another sit-down strike in response to the absurd cold. By then, however, Moderow was far more experienced and understood the words of another old musher: “You can’t push a rope.”
A soulful memoir of adventure and one woman’s love for her sled dogs.