BOOK REVIEW: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah


Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Format: Paperback
Genre:  Historical Fiction

Publisher: St Martins Press         
450 pages
Buy:  Kindle Paperback 


Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter north where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Cora will do anything for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. Thirteen-year-old Leni, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, has little choice but to go along, daring to hope this new land promises her family a better future.

In a wild, remote corner of Alaska, the Allbrights 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 newcomers’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates. 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.


I have had this on my TBR list for over a year, I finally got my hands on a copy and couldn't put it down.  I loved it.  This book sucks you in and takes you for a ride you won't forget.  I was instantly invested in the characters.  This is a difficult book in terms of subject matter, abuse, and survival in the harshest of conditions as seen through the eyes of a 13 year old girl coming of age in the 60's in a wilderness where not only the things living outside can kill you.  

Ernt has PTSD before there was a term for it and moves his family to the most remote part of the world. He needs peace and decides to homestead in Alaska, without indoor pluming, or electricity with one of the harshest winters. They soon find that living in Alaska is about survival.  Summer is spent preparing for winter and winter is spent just hoping to stay alive until spring and this family in their VW camper is woefully unprepared.  Ernt falls in with his neighbor who is full of conspiracy theories and blame for what is happening in the world, which speaks to Ernt and makes him even more volatile in this desolate land.  

Cora is in love with Ernt in the sickest of possible ways, she can't see herself without him.  So she puts up with his mood swings, and his violent temper.  Leni is 13 and isolated in the Alaskan wilderness where the only other person her age is a boy from a family her father hates. 

This book brings the whole gamut of emotions.  In some ways it reminded me of a fictionalized Educated by Tara Westover in that I wasn't sure if any of them would survive.  

I really loved this book which brings forth not only the harshness of the climate but the beauty that is Alaska. 

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