This is my honest review for The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. It does contain spoilers, so if you have not read this book yet, please proceed with caution.
About the book
This book is written by Kristin Hannah and was released in 2018. Hannah also wrote The Nightingale, True Colors, Firefly Lane and many more books.
This book is 438 pages minus the acknowledgments which I typically do not read.
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.
I had to really think about this book before I could do this review. After reading it I had to take a break for a few days because of how heavy this story was for me. Hannah’s writing style is absolutely beautiful and I felt so many emotions while reading this book. Although I have never been to Alaska, the descriptions in the book and the time period give a sense of nostalgia. I have never had a book make me cry the way The Great Alone did. This book is a heartbreaking account of a family in distress, love lost and returned and a brave girl who becomes a woman before her time.
I saw this book as a tragic love story for two young women who never had a chance to know what love really is. First I want to acknowledge that Ernt. Lenora’s father, took complete advantage of her mother. Getting her pregnant at the age of 16 and totally destroying her life at a time when she was way too young and blindly in love to know any better.
Cora, her mother was very weak when it came to her father, despite the abuse and struggles she experienced from being with him. I think that her being young and not experienced about what love should be, led her to believe that what she had with Ernt was love. And Ernt himself was also very weak. Sadly, this made for a miserable life for young Leni and in turn led to other tragedies along the way. I wanted to hate Cora because of how weak she was and I felt that her and Ernt were extremely selfish. When Leni made sacrifices for her mother I got so angry with them both. I wanted Leni to live her life and not worry about caring for her mother. But that was not who she was.
Her fathers actions pretty much set the tone for all of the horrible things that happened in Leni’s life. I understand that was her father, but I am glad that Leni eventually became immune to his bullshit. Initially I wanted her to do the same when it came to her mother.
In so many cases the people around them came through to help out. There were some unbelievably strong female characters who made me feel like everything was going to be alright for them. Large Marge being one of them. I honestly feel that if they were not so helpful and compassionate; Cora and Leni both would not have survived.
Although I was constantly disgruntled about Cora, a turn of events toward the end of the book had me bawling crying and made me feel differently, but it was a feeling of pity.
I would have not wanted this story to be written any differently. Of course I would have prefered a better ending for Leni and Matthew, but I feel that this ending was realistic in a sense that it wasn’t a 100% happy ever after. This book was unrelenting to the amazingly developed characters and all so unpredictable. I never saw anything coming and I am still in shock as to what happened with Leni’s love, Matthew. When reading books I always expect for people to pull through 100% when a tragedy strikes. This was not the case here and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I don’t want to give all of the details away and I know that I have already included some spoilers. I gave this book 5/5 stars and coined this as my favorite book of 2018.I strongly suggest you get this book and read it. This is the only book I have read from Hannah and I am definitely intrigued and ready for more. The Nightingale is next and I hear it is similar emotionally.
Have you read this book? What did you think about it?