Bonnie Ramthun grew up in an old mining town in the mountains of Colorado, so the setting for her book, White Gates, is a natural backdrop since it makes use of snow covered Colorado mountains, hidden mines, and snowboarding to create a fast paced mystery. Her characters are realistically drawn and help make this book an entertaining read.
When Torin’s Sinclair mom gets a job as the town doctor in Snow Park, Colorado, Tor can’t wait to learn to snowboard. However, on Tor’s first night there, a member of the high school snowboarding team dies. “It’s the curse,” everyone whispers. Tor’s new friends Drake and Raine explain that there’s an old Native American curse on the doctors of the town. Snow Park can never get a doctor to stay. Tor and his friends must piece together a mystery involving an old mine, a Ute curse, the entire snowboarding team—who just might be blood doping in order to win competitions— and an attempt to save the wild river otters of Colorado. In order to complete the puzzle, will Tor have to ride the deadly White Gates? And how will he survive the avalanche that follows?
I found White Gates interesting on several levels. First, the mystery surrounding “the curse” was well thought out and certainly added to the suspense of the story. Tor, being the new kid in town, provided the reader with a strong character to identify with and Drake and Raine were naturals, as Tor’s new friends. The descriptions about the setting and the sport of snowboarding, lends credence to the mystery. The narrative also helped maintain a pace that moved the story along. White Gates is definitely a book that will appeal to a middle school audience especially those who like mysteries, and sports.
Rating: 4 Cherries