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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah is an incredible coming of age story about surviving against all odds in the wilds of Alaska. After Nightingale my expectations from The Great Alone was sky high. Did it meet my expectations? You will have to read my review to find out.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival. 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.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.
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 it means following him into the unknown. 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.
Ever since I read The Nightingale, I have been a big fan of Kristin Hannah. So I was overjoyed when @booksnbeyondbox decided to include this book in their July line up. I was prepared for a tearjerker but I was not prepared for the level of contrasting feelings and emotional wringer this book put me through.
The story is about a mentally unstable father who decides to shift his family to the wilderness of Alaska in order to find a fresh start and also to escape the demons being a POW in the Vietnam war left him with.
Through the subsequent chapters, we see how the wild, harsh, beautiful land of Alaska shape and strengthen Leni and her mother into fierce capable survivors and how with each passing year Ernt slowly loses control of the darkness filling his mind.
This is a story of survival, where its not only nature they have to fear but also one of their own, their father, who should be the provider and protector, but is the biggest predator out there.
“Love and fear. The most destructive forces on earth. Fear had turned her inside out, love had made her stupid.”
The complexity of these characters makes you love and hate them, equally. Ernt with his abusive nature and Cora with her toxic love for Ernt, which makes her blind to everything else, are easy to hate. But the way Kristin Hannah builds up their character throughout the story, gives you such a deep insight into them that you can’t help but love them too. But Leni was the character who stamped herself into my heart. I connected to her so strongly that it was like, I was living through her and not reading about her.
The unconditional love between mother and daughter was something else I really enjoyed reading in this book. The sense of community and strong friendships shown in the book were truly inspiring.
This is a story of survival against all odds, a coming of age story, a love story and a story that shows the harsh reality of PTSD and domestic abuse, all wrapped into one. It was inspiring, awe inducing, heartbreaking and a testimonial to the indomitable human spirit. I felt like the ending was a bit rushed and underdeveloped but I still loved it just as much or even more than The Nightingale. Hugely recommended for fans of historical fiction and Kristin Hannah.
Similar posts : Review of The Nightingale
About the Author
Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week.
I’m gonna be picking up the nightingale by the author soon!
Wonderful ❤ review.
I’m yet to read anything by Kristin Hannah, should pick it up soon 😀
Becky @ Velvet Spade Reads says
I loved The Nightingale as well and I keep meaning to read this one. I’m not sure how it keeps slipping off the top of my TBR. Great review! I can’t wait to get to this one now. I love books that respect and celebrate the wilderness and it sounds like Alaska itself is a beautiful “character” in this novel. <3