The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
I love Kristin Hannah’s writing style and have enjoyed many of her books, but The Nightingale had always been my favorite of hers. After reading The Great Alone, it is now a very close race as both of these books focus on the importance and strength of friendships between women.
This novel was just so well written, I can’t really say enough positive things about it. I loved the atmosphere Kristin Hannah created. There is a wild beauty and almost comforting seclusion within Alaska’s landscapes. It may be stunning, but it is also a vast and terrifying land where you could die from the cold, a fall, an animal and so many other natural elements. I could feel both the beauty and the fear as this family is searching for a different kind of life. It takes on a fairy-tale like quality even with so many dark places and situations.
The problem is that Leni and her family seem to also have a danger lurking in their own home besides the wild animals or bitter cold. Thus they aren’t just trying to survive in America’s last frontier, or ‘the Great Alone’ that is Alaska, but also trying to survive a fragile dynamic in their home. With near-death experiences, a budding romance and charming characters, this book is nothing short of enthralling and catches your attention with every carefully chosen word.
This novel has two very different romantic relationships explained through many complex characters. Hannah does an amazing job of switching from a dark and toxic love to one with lightness, comfort and hope. She doesn’t shy away from the difficult aspects of the dark relationship, and it becomes heavy and emotional so many times throughout the novel. You find yourself hating certain characters and their actions, but also acknowledging the difficulties they are dealing with. Kristin Hannah so often shows the complexity of relationships and The Great Alone is no different; with a focus on yearning, reasoning and sacrifice.
Synopsis: 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. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture.