The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah, 5 stars

5 stars you say, eh? But seriously, I devoured this book and loved it from beginning to end. I don’t think there is anything bad I have to say about it!

The critics loved it too:

“A tour-de-force” Kirkus (starred review)

“Hannah vividly evokes the natural beauty and danger of Alaska and paints a compelling portrait of a family in crisis and a community on the brink of change.” ―Booklist

“In this latest from Hannah, the landscape is hard and bleak but our young heroine learns to accept it and discover her true self…fans will appreciate the astuteness of the story and the unbreakable connection between mother and child.” ―Library Journal

“Hannah skillfully situates the emotional family saga in the events and culture of the late ’70s… But it’s her tautly drawn characters―Large Marge, Genny, Mad Earl, Tica, Tom―who contribute not only to Leni’s improbable survival but to her salvation amid her family’s tragedy.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Kristen Hannah really sneaks up on me. I don’t know what genre she fits into…maybe literary fiction? But I know her writing is good, but I don’t always feel like I just have to have her books the minute they release. Sure, I put them on my library hold list, but I can wait a couple weeks, or months if need be.

But then I read them. And I am kicking myself that it took me so long.

The Nightingale, Firefly Lane, you know what I’m talking about, right? But I think The Great Alone is my favorite Kristen Hannah book yet!

From the Publisher:

Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.
Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

My Review:

The Great Alone is the best book I’ve read in a long time. And although it’s January 11 today, I will be hard pressed to find a better book the rest of the year. Every once in a while, a book comes along that just sweeps you off your feet. As you read, it folds you into the world of the book and you feel as though you are experiencing it all first-hand.

The Great Alone is THAT book.

As I read it, I was living in Alaska with Leni, Ernt, Cora, Tom, Matthew, and the rest of them. I lived through an Alaskan winter. I struggled and hunkered down and came out the other side. So what if it just took two days and I experienced it from my couch? In my defense, we did have a pretty impressive cold snap here in the Midwest.

The Great Alone is set in the 70’s and tells the story of Leni, her mother Cora and her father Ernt, a rescued POW with real issues. Yet despite all of that, and always hoping he will change, they follow him all the way to the great alone, rural Alaska, and stupid loved him and the wilderness too much to leave either. The story is real and tragic and heartbreaking and heartwarming and just amazing!

It releases February 6, 2018 so there is time to preorder it so that you can have it delivered to your door on the release date. It’s that good! In this day and age, I don’t buy a ton of books, but this one warrants a purchase. People will be talking, just wait and see!

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s for an e-galley in exchange for my honest review. I won’t be forgetting this book anytime soon!

Preorder your copy:

Indiebound

 

 

 

 

 

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