Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Featured photo by Zetong Li| Retrieved from Unsplash

WARNING: this review contains mild spoilers. Read at your own risk!

When I’m in the mood to break my own heart, I just pick up a Kristin Hannah novel!

In all seriousness though- shoutout to my real-life friend Karen for gifting me this book from my wishlist. It was nice to read a historical fiction novel that isn’t about WWII.

The Synopsis:

“Alaska, 1974.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Read This If You Love…

  • Struggle
  • Extreme camping and wilderness
  • Being distraught
  • A good comeback story

Mama could never leave Dad, and Leni would never leave Mama. And Dad could never let them go. In this toxic knot that was their family, there was no escape for any of them.

My Review

Kristin Hannah. Why? WHY?

Why do you kill off your characters? I just want to know what goes on in your mind. That’s all. Why do you do this to your readers?

I’ve read The Nightingale, The Four Winds, and now The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. My least favorite thing about every single book is that at least one person dies and the event is often very descriptive. Maybe trauma is the reason I don’t like it. Maybe I’m just a sucker for happy endings. Maybe it’s both.

So yeah, I actually do not like these parts of her novels and I won’t lie to you guys… I skip those parts. I skipped quite a few parts of The Great Alone. 

Still, despite me not liking quite a few parts of the book, I still give it four out of five paws.

Kristin Hannah just really knows how to tell a gripping story. The setting, era, and characters are always so unique and complex (I use that word a lot.. sorry).

The characters in The Great Alone brought up so many strange thoughts and emotions in me.

I can honestly say that I hate Ernt Allbright. Do I feel for him? Absolutely. The reader should keep in mind that this novel takes place during a time when society did not realize the impact the Vietnam War had on our Veterans yet. Either that, or they just didn’t care because as many people know, the war was incredibly controversial. It definitely messed Ernt up, but I personally do not view that as an excuse to be so violent.

And Cora. I went back and forth about her, too! From understanding why she wouldn’t leave Ernt to being frustrated beyond belief when she refused to. I can’t elaborate on exactly what ends up happening with her because I strive to keep these reviews free of major spoilers.

All in all, this was a great story and obviously I devoured it since it only took me three days to get through a 545 page book. I just hate reading books where destruction, pain, and death are huge trends.

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