Author: Kristin HannahSummary: Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves. In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature. ~amazon.com
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Bottom Line: Wow!
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Review: Great Alone is one of those books that will grabs you by the heart and never lets go. I wouldn't have thought that a book about living in the remote Alaskan wilderness would be so utterly engaging.
Alaska itself is its own character and drive the story as much as the Allbright family. It is also the coming of age story of Leni and the power of love. She shows the possibilities of it and the impossibilities of it. It is about being able to survive all of the things you think you couldn't and being stronger for it. Leni is a strong teenager and it a lot of ways she's the only adult in her house. Her mom's happiness is tied to the stability of her father and that is something that is sporadic.
She learns that love is both light and dark. Her mom and her try to stick together throughout her dad's highs and lows. She protects her mom as much as she can until her dad's rage is turned towards her.
Ms. Hannah highlights how war affects people and can change who they are. How sometimes not even love can heal them no matter how hard you try. They also have to want to help themselves.
Great Alone is one of those books that you will want to keep turning the pages on until late into the night. Ms. Hannah is one of the premier storytellers of our time. In this novel she made Alaska come alive.