Summary from Wikipedia:
Miyax, a thirteen-year old girl whose mother is dead and whose father disappeared while hunting, has run away. She intends to use the survival skills her father taught her to walk from Point Barrow to Point Hope. There, she plans to get a job on one of the huge ships as a laundress or cook and work her way to San Francisco, where she has a pen pal, Amy, who always ends her letters, "When are you coming to San Francisco?" Unfortunately, the tundra is different from her home country, and Miyax is lost.
Remembering what Miyax's father Kapugen, the great hunter, told her, she uses the body language she has learned from watching a wolf pack to persuade them to take her in and feed her. Miyax calls the great black lead wolf Amaroq, the Eskimo word for wolf. She names his mate Silver, and she calls his work partner Nails. There is also a cringing wolf that she calls Jello. Finally, the wolf pack has a litter of puppies. The smartest and bravest of these puppies she names after her father, Kapugen, or Kapu for short. In time, the wolves take in Miyax, though Jello's apparent opposition costs him even his low status in the pack. Miyax celebrates Amaroq as her foster father and sings songs in his praise. Winter is approaching, though, and Miyax, now that she is not starving, has gotten her bearings. She prepares to move on as the wolves enter the final days of training the grown pups for their nomadic winter life. Miyax hears the wolves calling. Finally ready, she is shocked to discover that the wolves have left.
Miyax's sense of abandonment triggers memories of her past life. Her mother dies when she is four, and her father takes her to a remote seal camp where the old Eskimo ways are practiced. Five years later, her Aunt Martha shows up with a court order and takes her back to be schooled, but Kapugen whispers that if she doesn't like it, at thirteen she can marry his friend Naka's son Daniel and escape. A month later, word comes that Kapugen has gone out to hunt and never returned. Miyax is now called Julie. Aunt Martha is strict, and at thirteen Julie, whose greatest pleasure is now the weekly letter from her pen pal Amy, does leave. Daniel turns out to be dull-witted, but although they marry, Julie's main role is helping her mother-in-law sew. Daniel and Julie live as indifferent brother and sister until the teasing of village men goads him to attempt to have sex with her. Julie is so upset and frightened that she gathers supplies and leaves, intending to take a ship for San Francisco.
Coming back to the present, Miyax is even more upset to find that Jello has destroyed her camp and much of her food. He misses her pack, though, and using what she has learned from the wolves, she backs him into surrender. Nevertheless, he follows her, and several nights later he steals her pack while she is sleeping. For this, Amaroq kills him, just as he would kill a lone wolf that stole food from a puppy. Miyax takes in a nearly frozen young golden plover and names him Tornait, "spirit of the birds." She discovers that she likes the old Eskimo ways, and her distrust of civilization is justified when hunters shooting from a plane kill Amaroq and wound Kapu. Miyax nurses Kapu back to health, and he becomes pack leader. Miyax's decision to stay in the wilderness living the old ways changes when she learns that Kapugen is living in a nearby town. He is overjoyed to see her. Miyax is surprised by his white English wife and modern possessions. She learns that he is now a pilot who takes hunters out. Taking Tornait, she slips out, but the bird dies shortly thereafter. Miyax sings, in English, a farewell to the old ways and returns to Kapugen.