Goodreads Summary: Alaska, 1974.
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 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.
My Thoughts: She does it again. This book is fabulous. I went into it having no idea what to expect, other than that I have loved every other book by Kristin Hannah. I was captivated by the premise, and as soon as they made it to Alaska, I was hooked. The way Hannah has of creating real and flawed characters that burrow their way into your heart is unparalleled for me. I immediately connected with Leni and her family, and felt for their struggles. I think her mother, Cora, was my favorite. She was so complex, and I really think that Hannah did an amazing job in creating a vessel for this extremely complicated and difficult subject matter. All of the characters were wonderfully vivid and unique, and helped to establish the vibrancy of Alaska, which might as well have been a character itself. The setting was so beautifully fleshed out in great detail and it felt alive. The time period played such a huge role in the development of the story, from the small pop culture references to the bigger issues, like a woman not being able to get a credit card without her father or husband to sign off on it, or the lack of diagnosis for PTSD. In another time, the story would have played out very differently. There was a deep intensity and an underlying sense of foreboding throughout the entire book, and it kept me riveted all the way to the final page, where I was sobbing like a little baby (as her books tend to make me do). So thank you Kristin Hannah for once again grabbing hold of my heart and pulling it into your story, where I feel a part of it still is.