I first came across this book sometime last year after reading another stunning read- Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I could not wait to dig into it. With my previous experience with the same author was an awesome read, The Nightingale see my review here. This makes Kristin Hannah officially on my list of favorite authors.
Great Alone is set in the United States during the late sixties and goes up to recent times. We meet the Albright family that is struggling in the midst of turmoil within the country that includes; bombings and kidnappings. Mr. Albright also known as Ernt, had a friend who he met while away during the Vietnam War. This friend left him a piece of land back in Alaska.
Since Ernt left the Vietnam War he is a different man. He battles alcoholism, post-traumatic stress. He promises his wife Cora and daughter Lena that he will be a better person once they land in Alaska. Do things change? Themes of love, family, hope bring this family together as well as tear them apart.
I loved the Alaska community, a group of people who helped the Albright family settle down as newbies in the town. As they became part of the community they also came to the family’s rescue when they needed financial and emotional support.
The character and plot development was on point. The characters are carefully laid out and as a reader, you grow with them as the book progresses. Lena was certainly a favorite for me as she had hope and determination that her family will have a better life at Alaska. I connected with Lena as she reminded me of her my teenage self and how I would react when I liked a boy. I loved her connection with her boyfriend Mathew. Since their family moved from place to place, she never really connected and had friends and Mathew seemed to be her first friend. Another favorite character was large Marge who helped develop the story line as well as came through for the Albright girls.
About the book (Good reads)
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.