The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Hannah, Kristin 2018.03
Cover image provided with permission from St. Martin’s Press

Leni Allbright, her mother Cora and father Ernt move to Alaska in 1974 after Ernt is bestowed a piece of land from his fellow Vietnam POW soldier who died in combat. The war has broken Ernt, who drinks heavily and is unable to control his violent outbursts and nightmares from undiagnosed PTSD. The family hopes that a change in scenery and wide open spaces will help him to heal before his anger is taken too far. When they arrive they are little prepared for the wild weather, and Leni begins to truly understand toxicity of her parents relationship. The local community is a great source of support and Leni finds roots and strength outside of her family. While her love of the wild land grows, the bonds of her family become more strained and dangerous, building to a breaking point and leaving devastation in its wake.

The description of Alaska, America’s last frontier with its mountains, water, animals, weather and sunshine (and lack thereof) were all beautifully done in this novel. The experience of living on the land, with its dangers and highs, really gave me the experience of what living in Alaska might be like; Hannah has first-hand knowledge, her family having lived there during the 1980s. Hannah is known for her engaging and heartbreaking prose, and this story hits on every mark, including a star-crossed love in the form of Matthew, the Sam to Leni’s Frodo, who hails from an affluent Alaskan family Ernt despises. Their friendship and eventual romance does not exactly help curb the danger Leni’s father poses, continually giving the reader the feeling of this cannot end well.

If you’ve read the Nightingale or Firefly Lane (Hannah’s most popular previous works), and are concerned that this will have as sad an ending as those two, don’t worry. While The Great Alone is heartbreaking and tear-inducing, its ending was hopeful, having many wrongs made finally right. This story includes a lot of domestic violence that was painful and angering to read about, but it also puts you in these people’s shoes, and reminds you that nothing is as easy or as clear-cut as it might seem from the outside. The characters were engaging, flawed, and interesting, combining with the beautiful descriptions these are truly the highlights of the book. I would recommend as a compelling family drama set in a beautiful and artfully described landscape, building slowly to create an emotionally powerful story that ultimately ends with a happy outcome.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Published on: February 6, 2018

I read this as: Hardback borrowed from a friend

Women’s History Month Challenge

Women’s History Month Challenge

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March is Women’s history month so to honor my fellow women I’m only reading books by female authors this month. Here are the books I’m committing to reading in March, hopefully I am able to get to them all (all blurbs are from Goodreads)

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott, published 2.20.18 – They were six university students from Oxford–friends and sometimes more than friends–spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway–until they met Severine, the girl next door. 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, published 9.12.17 – Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, published 2.6.18 – 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.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, published 2.28.17 – Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. 

What you don’t know about Charlie Outlaw by Leah Stewart, expected publication 3.27.18 – After a series of missteps in the face of his newly found fame, actor Charlie Outlaw flees to a remote island in search of anonymity and a chance to reevaluate his recent break-up with his girlfriend, actress Josie Lamar. But soon after his arrival on the peaceful island, his solitary hike into the jungle takes him into danger he never anticipated.

Ayiti by Roxane Gay, expected publication 6.12.18 – bestselling powerhouse Roxane Gay, Ayitiis a powerful collection exploring the Haitian diaspora experience. Originally published by a small press, this Grove Press paperback will make Gay’s debut widely available for the first time, including several new stories.

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey, published 1.9.18 – Bombay, 1921: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women’s rights.

I’ve got a few of these on hold at the library and I’m relying on them coming in the next few weeks, so keep your fingers crossed for me that I get them soon! If you’ve read any of these let me know what you think, or read along with me and we can chat about them.

“Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” —G.D. Anderson