The Great Alone is the latest book by best selling author Kristin Hannah.
In 1974 the Allbright family moves to Alaska looking for a fresh start. Leni, Cora and Ernt have been constantly on the move since Ernt returned from Vietnam, a POW with a drinking problem and a temper. With another lost job in the books, Ernt decides to take the family to Alaska–the final frontier–to start over.
Thirteen-year-old Leni doesn’t balk at the prospect of Alaska but she is also weary of what the long nights and seclusion will do to her already hot tempered dad. But what Leni longs for more than peace for her family is to find a place where she belongs and she hopes Alaska will be that place.
Totally unprepared and ignorant, the Allbrights’ must rely on hard work and the kindness of their neighbors to prepare for the long winter ahead. But as the weather begins to change, so does Ernt. The man who seemed to revive in Alaska begins to slip back into the darkness and Leni so begins to learn that a temper isn’t all her father has.
Will this family of three survive the wilds of Alaska or will the fractured pieces of them tear them apart and the town along with it?
This is the second book I’ve read by Hannah–the first being The Nightingale. I enjoyed the wild beautiful descriptions, the hardships of being homesteaders and the Call of the Wild of it all. Witnessing this family being both built up and torn down from both the inside and outside in this setting was enticing. It was definitely a read that kept me wanting to read.
I did sort of feel like I was reading two separate books about halfway though, however. Once we did that four year time jump, the narrative felt like it changed for me. We went from a damaged family, dealing with the elements to more of a Romeo and Juliet meets Call of the Wild. Although, the family was still a large focus of the book the larger focus became Leni and her forbidden relationship. At this point in the book, a new narrator was also introduced and Leni’s wasn’t the only voice we heard. I still enjoyed this part of the story and had to know what happened but I remember thinking that the tone of the book felt different from the first half.
Overall, I like this book and feel like it could have some real merit for a book club. Because of the shift in tone, I am giving it a high 3.5 stars.
That’s all for now!