The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah was an amazing read. At first I had trouble getting into it (not the book’s fault), but then the story suddenly latched onto me and sent me on an entertaining and emotional ride. I am very rarely reduced to tears when I read, but this book had me wiping away tears on public transport and having to hide behind my sunglasses. Be careful reading parts of this book in public!
The story is told from the point-of-view of Lenora (Leni) Allbright, who we first meet at thirteen-years-old. She is the only child to a beautiful, fragile mother and a damaged father. Her dad was a POW during the Vietnam war and returned a changed man, prone to outbursts. But her parents love each other intensely.
They move to Land’s End, Homer, Alaska in 1974 to start a new life in the wilderness after an army buddy leaves his cabin to Leni’s dad. They are woefully unprepared for the harshness of Alaska. Their cabin has no running water, no electricity and they have no idea how to live off the land. The tiny town of Homer is full of colourful inhabitants who band together to welcome the Allbright family and help them prepare for winter–a time when the unprepared don’t survive. But there’s a greater danger lurking than winter and it will affect the Allbrights and everyone around them.
There are so many themes in this book such as motherhood, death, family dynamics, domestic violence, growing up, love and survival in a wild place. At times it was a difficult, harrowing read given some of the subject mater. Kristin Hannah has an evocative way of writing. Her descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness made me feel like I was there. I have always wanted to visit Alaska so it was great to be able to visit it between the pages of this novel.
The Great Alone is the first book I’ve read by Kristin Hannah and I am sure it won’t be the last.
Verdict: Read this if you want to be carried away to the Alaskan wilderness by a story that tugs on all your emotions.
Have you read any books by Kristin Hannah. What’s your favourite? Tell me in the comments.