The Great Alone

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

A haunting book dealing with a dysfunctional family moving to Alaska in an effort to start over on land bequeathed from a battlefield friend. The adults do not fare well but the child grows to embody the strength and resilience of the land. She grows strong enough to free her parents from their violent interactions. 

This book will stay with you.  I keep wondering how these characters and their friends are doing.
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This book is so well written, I didn't want it to end. The research into the Alaska landscape, people, climate, and wild life was incredible. I felt that I knew the characters, they were so well depicted and I could see the cabin that the main characters lived in. There was plenty of excitement, even a murder, to keep you reading well into the night. Part of the story takes place in Seattle, a city I know well. So sad when a woman allows a man to beat her, but cannot break away. I guess it's quite a common thing.
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After reading the Nightingale I was expecting a lot out of this book.  It just wasn't there.  The story is good it was just a basic story to me.  A comparison I would make between the two is that her ending summary/lookback is more well written than the rest of the book.
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I am still trying to gather myself after reading this powerful novel.   Ms. Hannah took me on a journey to Alaska, a place I had visited with my family when I was a kid.  I was taken back to the wilderness and the remoteness of the beautiful state.   This book was about survival in so many ways.   Survival comes in different ways for different reasons.   Not just survival in a remote and wild country but also emotional and mental survival that might even be harder to endure and overcome. 

I was living in the  world of Leni and her life with a father who felt he needed to protect his family by isolating them from the world and its dangers he imagined.  Her loyalty to her mother and the abuse they endured were heart wrenching.   Ms. Hannah told a hard story to tell and did it in a "Robert Service" kind of way.   It's not always easy to tell about truths and situations.  I was pulling for Leni the entire book.    I had a hard time putting it down.  

I am so glad I read this book.  The writing of Ms. Hannah really pulled me in and took me on a trip to Alaska and The Great Alone I will never forget.   I could see the beauty of the state and smell the surrounding wilderness.  It was like being there.    
     This passage is one that touched me about life:

"Once, a lifetime ago, she had worried about girls, only a few years older than her, who had gone missing.  The stories had given her nightmares at thirteen.  Now she knew there were a hundred ways to be lost and even more ways to be found.   Such a thin veil separated the past from the present; they existed simultaneously in the human heart.  Anything could transport you-the smell of the sea at low tide, the screech of a gull, the turquoise of a glacier-fed river.   A voice in the wind could be both true and imagined.  Especially here."  

I want to thank Netgalley for the opportunity to read this GREAT novel and to Ms. Hannah for writing it.   I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to take an adventure into The Great Alone.
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I so loved Kristin Hannah's Nightingale and so couldn't wait to read her latest but I have to say I was disappointed.  Leni a young girl in an abusive family is the main character.  Father is extremely abusive and Mother has no backbone to get herself or her daughter out of it - the Alaska setting was good and descriptive but way too repetitive - I felt much of the continual repetition should of been left out - It was frustrating to read - I had to force myself to finish - way too much melodrama - a tedious read.
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Kristin Hannah did it again. The eloquence in her writing and masterful storytelling always allows me to become completely immersed in her books.
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The Great Alone is a chilling, emotionally wrenching roller coaster ride. Kristin Hannah has created characters that are believable and realistically populate this story of a couple and their child caught between a parent she loves and cannot abandon and a parent who claims to love her.

When Ernt Allbright and Coraline marry, they are madly and happily in love. Along comes Vietnam and Ernt gets drafted. After fighting, being captured and remaining a POW of 6 years, Ernt comes back a changed man. Ernt can't hold down a job, he is drinking and becoming violent. Morale is at an all-time low and gas prices are at an all time high. The world is in crisis. Bombings, hijacked planes, and now college girls in Washington State have been disappearing. Danger is everywhere. Ernt, Cora and their daughter Leni finally make the move to Alaska where there is freedom in the last frontier, to start a new life. Alaska is a tough place to live and as they struggle to survive, the dark creeps into Ernt and he becomes a man suffering from PTSD and takes it out on his wife. Meanwhile Leni has finally found a place where she feels like she belongs and her first true friend.

I loved this book. An entertaining and emotional read with an engrossing plot and well-developed characters. With some very heavy duty issues covered in this book, keep a box of tissues close by. The say Kristin Hannah described Alaska in all its brilliance and desolation, I could almost like I was there. It was easy to see why Leni felt lost when she was not in Alaska. Leni is an extremely strong young woman. In the midst of becoming a person capable of surviving her family, Alaska, hard choices, and the tragedies that rock her world, Leni discovers the true families that love her. Of course the issue of PTSD and how it was dealt with back in the 70s was terrible to read about. Yet, the compassion, loyalty, friendships, camraderie that develops between the residents of Kaneq Alaska were amazing and loving. After reading many amazing reviews I was worried that this story could not live up to the hype. “The Great Alone” does not disappoint. This was another fascinating, thought-provoking, and captivating read. Heartbreaking at times, but also with moments of great love and unbelievable kindness. A gripping story where I was desperate to know what was going to happen next. A bittersweet but satisfying ending topped off this amazing read. I finished this book a few days ago, but am still thinking about the characters and the setting. I can't say that about all the books that I read. I want to thank St. Martin's Press for generously providing me with a copy of this book to read. The opinions shared are my own.
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Whenever anyone asks me for a book recommendation, Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale is at the top of my list. So I’ve been anxiously awaiting her latest, The Great Alone, based loosely on her own childhood in Alaska, and it did not disappoint.

13-year-old Leni Allbright loves her father Ernt, but he’s become increasingly volatile since returning from Vietnam, where he was a POW. When he learns he has inherited a cabin in Alaska from a war buddy, she hopes their move to the wilderness will be what he needs to return to the man her mother, Cora, insists he once was.

When the Allbrights arrive in Alaska, they are greeted by the locals with open arms, who set out to get them ready for winter. As winter, with its few hours of daylight, brutal cold, and other dangers grows closer, Ernt becomes more dangerous to his wife and daughter. The dark, along with his drinking, causes Cora and Leni to tiptoe around, afraid of setting him off.

Leni finds she loves the wilderness and embraces the changes to their lifestyle, but she’s lonely. She grows close to Matthew Walker, a boy her age whose ancestors settled the town. Ernt is jealous of Matthew’s father, and while Leni knows how dangerous their friendship is, she can’t stay away from Matthew.

I enjoy Kristin Hannah’s novels because they tackle difficult subjects with grace and realism. Each one feels different from the next, but all are clearly labors of love with hours of research. The Alaskan backdrop makes the story come even more alive, and when the setting moves back to the mainland, I felt as jarred as Leni did.

I flew through the pages of The Great Alone, earnest to know the outcome of this wonderfully written novel, and it has already earned a spot as one of my favorite books of the year.
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I heard they're making a movie of this book? It was a great adventure story with thriller aspects and a love story thrown in. Well done.
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I received an advanced copy of this book through Netgalley. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. The author has a way with words! I will definitely recommend this book to my fellow readers!!! Thank you for the chance to review this book!!!!!
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Fantastic read and beautifully written! This is the first book I've read by this author and I will certainly be picking up her others. The Great Alone so beautifully captures the feeling of isolation in a wild land while holding on to the ties that bind. My heart raced with anticipation and broke with loneliness. 

The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars was because the last few chapters became predictable and rushed which left me feeling a little disappointed.
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Powerful and beautifully written story of challenge and resilience and a stunning use of the setting of Alaska as a stage for the dramas of escape, community, wilderness--outside and in. A gorgeously written novel.
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There are about a half dozen authors that fall into my "favorite authors" category, and today's book, The Great Alone, is by one of the authors in that favorite group, Kristin Hannah. In about 2009, I read a book titled Firefly Lane, and I've read every book she has written since and have never been let down.  Today's book is no exception.

First, I love the location - I've never been to Alaska but I just happened to have booked an Alaskan cruise in 2019, so when I started this book and realized it was about Alaska, I was thrilled! 

Leni Allbright is a 13 year old girl whose father Ernt, and mother Cora, take off with Leni in tow headed for Alaska with nothing but their VW bus and a dream for a better lif. Leni is hopeful about the change in their lives, but she's also afraid.  The story is set in the 1970's, and Leni's dad has returned from being a POW in Vietnam, but he's a different father than the man she used to know. He's drinking too much, there's domestic abuse, and Leni's life is in turmoil.

In the first part of the story, readers are provided with very vivid descriptions of how Alaskan homesteaders actually live in the extreme winter conditions and summer days that are endless. Ms. Hannah does an amazing job providing readers with the feeling that they are actually having an Alaskan experience.

What they all learn quickly is that no matter where you go, there you are.  You always bring yourself with you so you never outrun your demons. The family struggles through the years just trying to survive in Alaska living the minimalist lifestyle. Leni's world is blown apart several times in this story.  We read about her first love and how her father's behavior destroys that as they try to escape his wrath. Her father makes plenty of enemies in the town, while her mother tries to defend her husband’s cruel abuse.

Readers will experience Leni's life from childhood into adulthood where she is forced to reconcile her past with the woman she becomes. The Great Alone is the story of survival - it's about confronting fears and realizing strengths.  This is a book about courage, love and friendship, and an unshakable bond between parent and child.  Whether you’re a forever Kristin Hannah fan like me or whether you've never read her work, I suggest you to read The Great Alone!! 

I received a complimentary advanced reader copy of this book from St. Martin's Press through NetGalley in exchange for my review.  I would like to thank St Martin's Press for allowing me the opportunity to participate, read and review this book. My views are my own and are in no way influenced by anyone else!
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I absolutely loved The Nightingale so I was excited to receive a preview copy of The Great Alone from Net Galley. I dived right into it and started enjoying the narrative and description of life in Alaska. It was fascinating and beautifully written. Kristin Hannah has a delightful way with words.

Unfortunately something happened 2/3 of the way through the book and it started feeling more like young adult romance fiction. Some of it became predictable and it felt too wrapped up with a bow.

I took a while to write this review because I still found myself debating whether Leni and her mother would have become that close after all they had been through and what happened to Matthew could have been avoided had Cora made different choices. Granted, had Cora made better choices, things would’ve been entirely different for everyone, but I understand domestic abuse in that era (and even today for that matter) is not exactly easy to prove or to escape, so I am still conflicted. 3.5 stars.
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Kristin Hannah is one my favorite authors and I was beyond happy to read The Great Alone. Fortunately, I was not disappointed, this book was beautifully written, the story tugs at the heart, and I highly recommend having a box of tissues handy. As soon as I started reading, I did not want to put the book down. It is the story of Cora, Ernt, and Leni Allbright. Ernt was in Vietnam and has many nightmares and moments of violence. Leni is Cora's and Ernt's daughter, she was the reason I kept reading long past when I needed to fall asleep. The family moves to Alaska, somewhere they could not be more unprepared to live. The people in town take them under their wings and help them to acclimate. There is a good amount of backstory on each character, I felt like I knew each of them. Ms. Hannah's descriptions of Alaska are so real, you will feel you are there experiencing it with the characters. There are some pretty heavy duty scenes and subject matter covered in the book, so maybe have an upbeat book read prior and another ready to read after. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for giving me this book in exchange for an honest review.
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The Great Alone is a historical fiction novel set in 1974, following a family that migrates to the Alaskan frontier to start a new life. Ernst Allbright is a vietnam veteran, and a POW, who can’t seem to keep his job (or his temper), and needed to escape into another world in order to start a new chapter for his family. The Allbright family is greeted with immense love and community, as their new neighbors introduce them to the reality of Alaskan-tough. But, as winter approaches, Leni and her mother can see the darkness growing in Ernst, and they do everything they can to keep his anger at bay.
The story continues to follow Leni as she continues to grow, watch her mother and father’s passionate and seemingly destructive relationship, and eventually learn what it means to live with love.
Where do I begin with this review?
This book broke me in half, rebuilt me, weaved my emotions in a thousand directions, tied them in a knot, and then left me alone to unravel this tangled mess of ideas and sentiments. It illuminated both a compassion and a judgement that I didn’t know lived inside of me. It helped me understand the kinds of people that previously made zero sense to me.
This book was bleak. It was simultaneously difficult to consume and impossible to set down. The first 200 pages are slow going - they are atmospheric, and set the stage for a massively complex tale of family and love, and identity.
I felt a little bit like the first half of the book and the second half of the book were different stories that were crammed together, and it ultimately created a bit of a dramatic and rushed ending to a book that started with a very unhurried narrative style. Towards the end, I didn’t have time to process one event before another things happened and took my attention.
I can’t help but make that small critique, because I am reviewing the book, and I want to remain honest. But if I were only giving my subjective opinion, I’d say that this book was incredible, beautiful, and I am awestruck at the emotional intensity that pulled me through the story until the very last page.
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Kristin Hannah's writing has mesmerized me before so I didn't hesitate to request The Great Alone on Net Galley. The time period and the place drew me in. I was in college in the 1970s and my husband and I watch some real life TV programs of families living off the grid in the upper north of Alaska. This novel grabbed me immediately. Leni, a young teen and her parents are the main characters. Her father has returned from the Viet Nam war as a POW suffering from PTSD. Life becomes quite erratic for these three. He struggles to maintain a job moving them often. He eventually devises a plan for a new start by moving to Alaska. Leni's mom sees hope in his decision so she begins to prepare for the new adventure. But nothing could equip them for what they encountered. Once in Alaska, life changed rapidly. 

I must warn you that the book contains family abuse, violence, and desperation. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the novel. Will hope arise for Leni or her parents? Can they survive the daunting wilderness of Alaska? 

I received a copy from Net Galley. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.
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The Great Alone follows a family of three—Leni, and her parents Cora and Ernt—as they move from Seattle to the wilds of Alaska. They are grossly underprepared, yet the small community of Kaneq welcomes them and offers a helping hand. However, Leni’s father, Ernt, is a Vietnam War veteran, and lives with debilitating PTSD that has led him to drinking, and abusive behavior against Leni, and especially his wife, Cora. As the darkness of the Alaskan winter sets in, Leni and Cora face an even darker situation inside their own home.

The plot follows Leni’s story from thirteen, when she moves to Alaska with her parents, through young adulthood. I’m glad that Hannah didn’t decide to just focus on their first year in Alaska, and instead follows a longer storyline, that allows more to happen and more characters to be introduced. While the plot kept me reading, and was quite engaging, the events that happened in the story were rather predictable.

That predictability floats over to the characters, who I enjoyed on a surface level, but fell flat in a deeper exploration of their minds. Even when we got glimpses of Leni’s own thoughts, they seemed…flat, silly, unrealistic? I can’t quite find the right word, but at times she would act and think in such a mature way, but then revert back to a childish persona. I found this flip-flop between two mindsets off-putting as I continued to read.

I also wish that the secondary characters were developed more. They were all simple props that helped further along Leni’s story, and didn’t have much more to them besides a simple backstory that was mentioned once or twice. They play such a large role in Leni’s life, yet they were not very realistic. Granted, I don’t know much about rural Alaskan communities, but I would figure that more people would be from Alaska and not have these crazy backstories where they are all intelligent professors looking for a life closer to nature, or ex-prosecutors, or rich people who know the governor. Every secondary character seemed to have this special backstory, but were not developed much further, with personalities that seemed plucked off a store shelf—not unique, and not true-to-life.

As with The Nightingale  I feel like this was an engaging read that really pulled at my emotions, yet wasn’t as masterfully created as other novels I have read. I think this is a great story of family, survival and nature, and Hannah really brought me into the Alaskan environment. However, if you are looking for an intricate, masterful piece of writing, I’m not sure this is it. But if you are looking for something to excite you, bring you back to nature, with a nicely tied up ending, then this book is for you.

I think that The Great Alone is a great, easy read, and has sparked an interest in me to read more about Alaskan frontier. If anyone has any recommendations, let me know in the comments! 🙂

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced digital copy, which I read very late…
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An emotional roller coaster of a book! At times it seemed that the author got bogged down in details, but I later realized these details make the picture/setting/person very clear in the reader's mind. I found this book hard to put down and due to the heft of the book, was very glad to be reading the Kindle version. It kept me up reading well into the wee hours of the morning because I just kept reading "a little bit more".  The ending did feel a bit rushed but the book is a definite must-read.
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Opening line:
"That spring, rain fell in great sweeping gusts that rattled the rooftops."

A compelling, coming-of-age story in the harsh climate of Alaska and an abusive father. 
Ernt Albreight is a Vietnam POW with issues. He keeps moving his family, Cora and Leni, around to find peace. When the chance to build a new life in Alaska opens up, he takes, regardless of the hesitation of his wife and daughter. Alaska is unforgiving, but the people in a little town are inclusive and embrace the family. 
At first Ernt is happy and doing well. The townspeople come out and help them get ready for winter because it will kill you. Leni makes friends with the only boy, Matthew, her age and they fall in love. Cora makes friends too but Ernt is too controlling, too possessive, which leads to jealousy, so Cora backs away from friendship to satisfy her husband, keep him happy. But that's not going to last because Ernt is an abuser who hits first. 
After a tragedy, Matthew goes to live with his sister. Leni and Matthew miss each other and write letters constantly. In the meantime, Leni becomes Alaska Strong while Matthew plays hockey. Leni has become a hunter and keeps her family feed. There are disruptions in town, thanks to Ernt's jealousy that he never gets over. 
Then tragedy after tragedy after tragedy happens and suddenly the story is sliding away from me and I'm trying to figure out why it's all happening in the last part of the book. What? I felt like I couldn't take a breath and I felt like the ending came so quickly.
I love Kristin Hannah's writing. I couldn't stop listening to it but at the same time I had to take breaks from the story. There were a lot of characters to keep track of but the main ones were full of life and quirks. I wasn't fully invested in the love story but it was sweet and ended the way I think it should have. This is a dark story with moments of sunshine and beauty.

Over 100 swear words but no F bombs; harsh living; angry, abusive father and husband; teen pregnancy; broken bones. 
Thanks to netgalley for the read!
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