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The Great Alone

The Great Alone Book Cover The Great Alone
Kristin Hannah
St. Martin's Press
February 6, 2018
Advanced Reader Copy
Free from publisher

Lenora Allbright is 13 when her father convinces her mother, Cora, to forgo their inauspicious existence in Seattle and move to Kaneq, AK. It's 1974, and the former Vietnam POW sees a better future away from the noise and nightmares that plague him. Having been left a homestead by a buddy who died in the war, Ernt is secure in his beliefs, but never was a family less prepared for the reality of Alaska, the long, cold winters and isolation. Locals want to help out, especially classmate Matthew Walker, who likes everything about Leni. Yet the harsh conditions bring out the worst in Ernt, whose paranoia takes over their lives and exacerbates what Leni sees as the toxic relationship between her parents. The Allbrights are as green as greenhorns can be, and even first love must endure unimaginable hardship and tragedy as the wilderness tries to claim more victims.

My review:

It's pretty hard to top The Nightingale, but I really enjoyed this new release by Kristin Hannah. It's a different style than Nightingale, I would say more in line with most of her previous works (of which I have read a few). The setting of Alaska is absolutely a character in and of itself in this one, the descriptions of the beauty and isolation (particularly in winter) were wonderfully written. The other characters were so well defined, right down to my favorite supporting character Large Marge. There is a poignant scene with her that had me in tears! Be aware that there is abuse in this one, so if that is a trigger for you, I would not recommend. The book touches on the subjects of PTSD, survival skills, injury related brain trauma, and familial bonding, among others. As I was reading this one, it reminded me of another of this winter's blockbusters, My Absolute Darling (young girl protagonist, survivalists, nature setting). However I didn't like Darling because of the incest and excessive nature and gun descriptions, whereas The Great Alone was much more to my taste in not going over the top in these areas.

This was an absolutely beautiful exploration of Alaska in the 1970's, with some of the most well defined characters I've read about. It's not The Nightingale, but it's definitely worth all the hype it's been given. I highly recommend!

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