Except that Albertina Alvarez isn’t a movie-type weregirl. Once every month or two, she morphs into an actual four-legged wolf, a curse she inherited from her mother’s side of the family. (Fact is, she’s not sure it’s a curse. More on that in a minute.)
After it happens the first time, she and her mom and brother flee Southern California for Denali National Park, where her grandfather runs a lodge that caters to other “woofies.”
Yep: “Woofies.” That’s how the younger generation of loups-garou self-identifies. (They never use the other W word.) And that’s the title of the book: “Woofies: Werefolk in Alaska.” I’m giving away two copies to help spread the word.
(This is not my usual Friday giveaway, but a separate campaign to promote this book.)
You won’t find any sparkly vampires or girls who moon over (so to speak) unattainable boyfriends. Al is 13 and more interested in running track than chasing guys. In fact, she’s so good at it that her California coach thinks she can get a college scholarship. Unfortunately, the only sport to be had in the tiny town of Chulitna is basketball — a game that the short-and-stocky teen has never played.
Although the school is very small, Al doesn’t fit in with the few other girls her age. She misses her father, who stayed behind in California to keep working. She feels guilty that her mom, a pharmaceutical sales rep, had to quit her job to move north with the kids.
In short, Al feels completely out of her element in the Last Frontier — except, that is, when she’s transformed.
Now she was running full out, the terrain gliding by in an exhilarating blur, front paws stretching out in front of her, hind legs reaching out behind her tail, her back springing up and down in a smooth bounce, whipping her forward like a bullet, blood rushing through her veins like a drum beating out the command: “Run! Run! Run!”
… A thrill surged through her as she left the lights of the lodge. Her feet could feel every detail of the frozen ground, but the sharp sticks and rocks and ice caused no discomfort. … The hours wore on, but she wasn’t aware of them. Time was different. It didn’t have anything to do with a clock, calendars, schedules, school, homework or housework. All were distant memories, dimly remembered dreams, stories heard long ago.
Thus it isn’t surprising that when a scientist suggests he may have a cure, Al isn’t at all convinced she should take it. “What is ‘normal’?” she asks herself. “What if being woofie is what’s normal for me?”
A story for all ages
The book is intended for young adults, but I found it entirely engaging. If you’ve got a wolf- or werewolf-obsessed friend, this would make a great gift. It would also make a great birthday or holiday present for anyone who’s ever felt at odds with the world yet believes that conformity would obliterate identity.
Incidentally, Chulitna is a lot like Talkeetna. There’s even an annual bachelor auction and wilderness woman competition there. So if this book takes off the way the “Twilight” series did, then I expect pilgrimages to Talkeetna a la the stream of visitors to Forks, Washington.
But I’m with George Takei on that series: Vampires do not sparkle.
If you’d like to enter to win a copy, leave a comment below; one entry per person, please. The deadline is 7 p.m. PDT Saturday, Aug. 16. If I don’t hear back from the winners by 7 p.m. PDT Sunday, Aug. 17, I’ll pull two other names.
Note: Due to the high cost of international shipping, this contest is open only to readers in the United States.