Title: The Great Alone
Author: Kristin Hannah
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publish Date: February 6, 2018
Obtained: Bound Galley from Publisher
Synopsis: Ernt Allbright returned from the Vietnam as a POW not right. He can’t hold down a job and has nightmares. Eventually he inherits a piece of land in Alaska, and he travels there with his wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni. They were hoping Alaska would be a fresh start for all of them. But they were wrong. Alaska breaks them and then builds them back up, eventually becoming a part of them. What follows is a woman and her daughter’s fight for survival in an unforgiving land.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Kristin Hannah for sending me a free copy of The Great Alone in exchange for an honest review. All opinions that follow are my own.
Kristin Hannah. For me, her name is synonymous with the ugly crying face. I haven’t read a book by her that didn’t make me cry like a blubbering idiot. She manages every time to tug at my heartstrings and break me down. And I thought I was in the clear when I neared the end of The Great Alone. I got all the way to just about the last few chapters before it happened for me.
Don’t get me wrong. This is a story of survival and breaking free of sadness and despair. There were so many aspects of The Great Alone that absolutely gutted me. But I held on to my emotions until the very end.
The Allbright Family
This book had amazing character development for the Allbright family. There was enough backstory that I found their story believable and kept me wanting to know their outcomes. When they move to Alaska, we don’t know the extent of Ernt’s ‘disease’ because daughter Leni doesn’t really see much behind the scenes. As a thirteen-year-old girl who has always been the new girl in school, she doesn’t see what’s right in front of her because she is so young.
But Alaska brings out the worst in Ernt. The summer is full of preparing for winter: hunting, fishing, canning, gardening, fortifying. Everything Alaskans do in the summer is to prepare for the eventual winter. Things seem great since the Allbrights are so busy preparing. But they themselves are ill-prepared for the harsh landscape that Alaska offers.
The Last Frontier
The Great Alone takes place during the ‘70s and ‘80s in both Seattle and Alaska, but Alaska holds the chunk of the plot. In essence, Alaska itself is a character. Its beauty is described in such stunning detail that I’ve decided to add an Alaska vacation to my bucket list. I’ve heard amazing things about Alaska, and Kristin Hannah seriously brought it to life for me here.
“In Alaska you can make one mistake. One. The second one will kill you.”
The Great Alone was a bit slow-going for me as it took me some time for me to get into it. There were some aspects of the novel that I found a bit cliché and unbelievable. Otherwise, The Great Alone is a testament to what a young woman can endure in an unforgiving landscape and I would definitely check it out when it releases in February!
Memorable Quote: “In literature, death was many things – a message, catharsis, retribution. There were deaths that came from a beating heart that stopped and deaths of another kind, a choice made, like Frodo going to the Grey Havens. Death made you cry, filled you with sadness, but in the best of the books, there was peace, too, satisfaction, a sense of the story ending as it should.”