The Great Alone
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An instant #1 New York Times bestseller!
"A TOUR DE FORCE." —Kirkus (starred review)
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 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.
Don’t Miss This Outstanding Book!!!
The Great Alone is a superbly written, compelling novel, that takes place in Alaska, during the 1970s.
Cora Albright has always been devoted to her husband Ernt; even after he came home a changed man, from Vietnam. Ernt was no longer the loving, happy husband, he once was. He was moody, angry and abusive. But, Cora loved him, anyway. Even after her daughter, Leni, pleaded with her to leave Ernt, Cora stood by her husband’s side. I wanted to shake some sense into Cora. I loved so many of the colorful characters in this book; Leni, Matthew Walker, Tom Walker and Large Marge, were my favorites. Although I knew that Ernt Albright was suffering from PTSD, I still couldn’t bring myself to warm up to him. I detested the physical and emotional abuse that he flung at his family without a second thought.
While reading The Great Alone, I felt as if I was part of the story, braving the harsh Alaskan weather, and grieving unbearable losses. Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. The Great Alone is a poignant story about domestic abuse, toxic love and everything in-between. To say that I became involved in the story is an understatement. By the time I finished reading this book, my heart had been torn into a million pieces and then stitched back together again. I was emotionally exhausted but smiling. The Great Alone is an unforgettable story and one that will stay with me for a very long time. I loved every page of his outstanding, unputdownable book. Highly recommended.
Thank you, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy!
Kristin Hannah at her very best in The Great Alone
The Great Alone is the latest novel by award winning author Kristin Hannah. As in all of her stories, the depth of research and understanding of her subject matter is amazing. The rich portrayal of her characters is perfection. And her underlying threads of PTSD and abuse of women, although shown back in time, are so incredibly relevant today.
This story is set in the mid 1970's to the latter 1980's. Leni Allbright is thirteen and a very lonely young lady. Her family's constant moving and lack of funds continues to make her the new girl and the poor girl in school. Although an avid reader and an interested student, moving so often makes school difficult. Leni's Vietnam POW veteran dad Ernt, once a skilled mechanic, has suffered so much he can no longer hold a job and they live on her dropout mom's waitress wages.
When out of the blue, Ernt receives a letter telling him that his best Army buddy, who their Vietnamese captors killed before Ernt's eyes, had left his cabin and forty acres near Homer, Alaska to him. Feeling this is the best thing that has ever happened to him, Ernt sells off their few belongings, gets a used VW bus, and packs up what they have left and heads north from Seattle to Alaska, the great alone.
When they arrive in the small town of Kaneq, the first person they meet is general store owner Large Marge, who is also a neighbor. But soon they have found something they never had before, friends and a community. On her first day at the one room schoolhouse Leni makes a friend of her own, 13 year old neighbor Matthew Walker. They have both waited their entire lives for a friend the same age.
As Ms. Hannah spins this very poignant coming of age story, she does so in a vast and desolate, yet picturesque landscape. The harshness of the setting reflects the unsettling depth of this story. The wildness of the land, the strength seen in so many of the characters, and the way they came together to take care of their own is a gripping tale that I did not want to put down. I wholeheartedly recommend this book!
This is one of those rare books where the writing is so good that when you eventually force yourself to put the book down, the characters follow you throughout your day.