THE GREAT ALONE by Kristin Hannah is a novel that can change your life.
I’ve never really thought much about visiting Alaska. Not really. Too much snow and cold. But was soothing when I was reading an advance copy because it was oh-so hot here in S.W. Florida. But when I started reading this story I almost changed my mind. Almost. And only in the very beginning…
The Albright family is celebrating the return of Ernt from his tour in Vietnam. The year is 1974 and we find he was held as a POW. Now he’s home and looking forward to being reunited with this wife Cora and their 13-year-old daughter Leni. Leni hardly remembers her dad. But Ernt is suffering from PTSD and is having a hard time settling into a job. He’s having debilitating headaches and nightmares that are very unsettling to say the least.
When Ernt receives a letter telling him he’s inherited a piece of land in Kaneq, Alaska, he jumps at the chance to move off the grid. An old buddy died and left the land to Ernt knowing it was right up his alley. He convinces Cora that he will be healthier in this new environment and off they go, half-cocked. Not nearly prepared for the raw harshness of the wild, untamed world, let alone a winter that needs a year of preparation.
The people they meet in Alaska are amazing. Hannah has outdone herself with the characters. Large Marge has to be my very favorite. And Mad Earl kept me scared half to death through most of the book.
Hannah’s sense of place is picture -perfect. You can not write something like this without having experienced the wildness of Alaska firsthand. The cold of the Alaskan winters is bleak and unforgiving. It can and will kill you. Your neighbors are your lifeline. And you better get along.
Sure enough, as winter approaches, and the nights come earlier and last seemingly forever, Ernt starts suffering nightmares even worse than before. Along with them he shows his ass. Cora has put up with his physical abuse for too long. And now Leni is seeing this and having to deal with watching her mom being beat to a pulp on a regular basis. Of course Ernt is always sooooo sorry after the fact. Isn’t that always the way with the abuser…
There are parts of this novel that are hard to read because of the physical abuse to Cora. And when Ernt begins threatening Leni it gets even harder. A mother’s love is not like anything else in this world. What Cora puts up with it to keep her Leni safe….
Leni loves living in Alaska. She even thrives on all the things her dad does to prepare her to protect herself. She can shoot a gun as good as anyone. She learns to put food on the table. And she is still going to school during all this. That’s where she meets Matthew Walker, and then falls in love. You know there is going to be trouble now.
Cora’s parents gave up on her early-on when she decided to run off with Ernt against their wishes. She was pregnant with Leni and in love. What would they think if they could see her now?
Danger lurks everywhere. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Sometimes you just can’t imagine living through a situation. And THE GREAT ALONE poses that reality.
I truly believe this is going to be the blockbuster of the season. As harrowing as it is, it’s wonderfully written and totally unputdownable. I can’t wait to be able to talk to you about it.
We will have brand new copies of THE GREAT ALONE at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda on Tuesday, February 6th. This amazing new hardcover blockbuster will be discounted 20%.
My review copy arrived from St. Martin’s Press. I truly LOVED it !