by Bobbie Pryon
I was looking for realistic fiction. I was looking for a book that was serious and that had a male main character. I came across Dogs of Winter, with a note on the cover saying, “based on a true story.” I thought I’d give it a try. Wow! I’m glad I did. The more I read the more I wondered. What is happening right now around me that I am not aware of? What can I do to help? How many starving children are there lurking in the background hoping to remain invisible, desperate to survive?
This is the story of Ivan Andreovich. At first he is in kindergarten, learning to read in his little apartment with his Babushka Ina and his mom. Shortly after his grandmother dies and he finds himself needing to hide in the pantry from “him” and a bit later he has been left on the winter streets of Moscow. Hungry, cold and alone, Ivan tries to join up with the other children he finds in the city, but they are mean and greedy. Ivan notices the dogs – they make sure everyone has some…some company, some food, some warmth. Ivan chooses the dogs. He helps Lucky and Lucky brings the little boy to his pack. Ivan joins the pack and together they learn to survive through the coldest bleakest winter and the sunny bounty of summer. For three or so years, Ivan lives with the dogs – becoming one of the pack, but there are moments when he longs for stories and wishes for music.
When he told his story Ivan said, “I was better off with the dogs. They loved and protected me.” What is the truth in that statement? The heart wrenching ending of this book has me wondering. Make sure to read Dogs of Winter. Wonder about what people do, what they can do, what they have to do and what they don’t do. Though it has been two weeks since I finished reading this book I still hear the howl of sorrow and loss echoing in my mind – and I wonder.