This story about a family in crisis, is set in Alaska in 1974. A former Vietnam veteran and POW comes home from the war very damaged by his experiences. He is now very volatile, with a bad temper and a very short fuse. He makes a surprise announcement that with no preparation or planning at all, he is taking his family to live in the wilds of Alaska. They will live an off the grid lifestyle in America’s last untamed frontier.
Ern Allbright and his wife, Cora, have a thirteen year old daughter, Leni, who becames caught between her parents and their very stormy and very passionate relationship. When they first arrive in Alaska, there is hope that this is the change that the family and Ern need. This part of Alaska might be tough, rough and wild, but there is a strong community very eager to help these novices set up, and live an off the grid lifestyle without all the mod cons and modern facilities that they have previously taken for granted.
But it doesn’t take Cora and Leni long to realise that as much as they have come to love their new home and lifestyle, they really are on their own. They have nobody to turn to, and if they are to be saved, they will have to save themselves.
The above summary is very brief. There is much more to this action packed story than I want to write in a summary. I’m very aware that too much information will spoil the readers experience of this wonderful novel.
Kristin Hannah has written 20 novels, but The Great Alone is the first that I have read. It definitely won’t be my last. She is a beautiful writer, and at times her words brought me to tears. The Great Alone has a huge heart, and succeeds in the reader having a sense of the love, joy, kindness and sadness between the family members, and also with the community. I found the tragedy of this story to be overwhelmingly sad. At the same time the happiness and love brought a great joy to my heart.
I cried real tears at times, during the sad moments, and also the happy moments. When the main characters felt fear, it was so well described, that I felt the fear also. I also felt their happiness. This book is a rare read for me in that it made feel extremely happy and also very very sad.
The author has invoked a wonderful sense of place in this novel. I live off the grid also, so understand all the pros and cons that come with it. But you throw the wilds of Alaska into the mix and it’s a different proposition altogether. I found myself wanting to pack my bags and head off to the homesteading lifestyle in Alaska.
It’s now a few days since I finished The Great Alone, and I cannot get it out of my mind. Could it be that just 18 days into the new year, I have just read my best book of 2020?
“A girl was like a kite; without her mother’s strong, steady hold on the string, she might just float away, be lost somewhere among the clouds.”
“Love and fear. The most destructive forces on earth. Fear had turned her inside out, love had made her stupid.”
“All this time, Dad had taught Leni how dangerous the outside world was. The truth was that the biggest danger of all was in her own home.”
I listened to the audio book of The Great Alone, but I loved it so much I will also be reading the paper book. Audio books are great, but of course any reader would prefer to actually read a book. I love listening to audio books on my long drives to work. They make the drive bearable. There were many times that I had to stop the car to write down a quote. There were so many beautiful words in this book.
This book went very quickly to number one one the New York Times best seller list in print, ebook and audiobook.
“Reliably alluring…The Great Alone is packed with rapturous descriptions of Alaskan scenery… Hannah remembers and summons an undeveloped wilderness, describing a gloriously pristine region in the days before cruise ships discovered it.”
–The New York Times
“Set in the early 70s, this coming of age story has parallels in the current day and becomes a cautionary tale for our times.”
–The Toronto Star
“In this latest from Hannah, the landscape is hard and bleak but our young heroine learns to accept it and discover her true self…fans will appreciate the astuteness of the story and the unbreakable connection between mother and child.”
– Library Journal
“Featuring a rich cast of characters and elevated by the riveting portrayal of homesteading in Alaska in the 1970s, this is a compassionate story of a family.”
– People, “Book of the Week’
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
About The Author
Audiobook published by MacMillan Digital Audio,
15 hours 2 minutes, unabridged English and read by Julia Whelan.
Released 8 Feb 2018, MP3 (411MB)
Book published February 6th 2018 by St. Martin’s Press.
Have you read The Great Alone. If so, I’d love to hear if you enjoyed it as much as I did. I love it when we have a conversation and promise to reply to all comments.
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