Title: The Great Alone
Author: Kristin Hannah
Genre: Popular fiction
Rating: 4 stars
What’s it about? A story about a family of three who, in an effort to start fresh, move from Seattle to the open space of Kaneq, Alaska. Cora and Ernt Allbright had been happily married in the 1960s, but everything changed after Ernt returned from service in Vietnam. A prisoner of war for six years, Ernt came home with many demons. When Ernt learns he has inherited land in Kaneq from a war buddy who was killed in service, Alaska sounds like a perfect escape. A mish-mash of settlers in Kaneq form a divided community. Many are homesteaders from several generations back and many are there to escape, including the survivalist clan of Ernt’s buddy. The brief summer in Kaneq soon gives way to an unrelenting winter. And the shortened days reveal an even greater darkness inside the Allbright cabin.
It’s hard enough to adjust to Ernt’s depression and excessive drinking, but Cora has been hiding something much worse. The story is told from the perspective of their thirteen-year-old daughter, Leni, who tries to reconcile her love for her father with the man he is now.
The story starts in 1974 and finishes in the present, describing the many challenges and heart breaking decisions the Allbrights must make.
How did you hear about it? My book club friend selected it for our December read.
Closing comments: I enjoyed reading about Alaska and how people survive in such a difficult place. The author did a great job describing both the beauty and the danger of living in Kaneq. Survival is a full-time job there and the Allbrights meet many people who are willing to help.
Despite its 400 plus pages, this is a fast read. Although I enjoyed the story and descriptions, the characters are somewhat stereotypical, making the book a light version of an important time period. A perfectly tied-up finish will make some readers happy and will make others think the ending is unrealistic.
Contributor: Ginette 😉
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