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435 pages, Kindle Edition
First published February 6, 2018
All this time, Dad had taught Leni how dangerous the outside world was. The truth was that the biggest danger of all was in her own home.
They were trapped, by environment and finances, but mostly by the sick, twisted love that bound her parents together.
Mama had quit high school and “lived on love.” That was how she always put it, the fairy tale. Now Leni was old enough to know that like all fairy tales, theirs was filled with thickets and dark places and broken dreams, and runaway girls.
Thirteen-year-old Leni is living in a desperate situation.
Books are the mile markers of my life. Some people have family photos or home movies to record their past. I’ve got books. Characters. For as long as I can remember, books have been my safe place.
Love and fear. The most destructive forces on earth. Fear had turned her inside out, love had made her stupid.Ernt inherits some land from a friend and suddenly Leni finds herself leaving everything behind for Alaska.
“for we few, the sturdy, the strong, the dreamers, alaska is home, always and forever, the song you hear when the world is still and quiet. you either belong here, wild and untamed yourself, or you dont.”
KRISTIN HANNAH grabbed my attention from the get-go with her freaky cold (Brrrrrrrr) descriptively atmospheric novel set in a remote 1970's Alaska where "you can make one mistake, but the second one will kill you"......literally.
THE FIRST HALF of the story introduces the reader to the Allbright family and the shock of their unimaginably dangerous and unpredictable new life in the wild.
LIVING ROUGH (Yikes!) in their inherited little cabin, they must haul water, grow their own vegetables, and hunt for food....all while armed and on the lookout for black bears and wolf packs....AND with only three months each year to prepare for the long, dark and treacherous winter months to come.
BUT....harsh weather conditions, isolation and "icy darkness" is NOT their only fear....there is another. "People go batshit in the dark."
THE GREAT ALONE has something for everyone....engaging writing....suspense....adventure and great characters with names like MAD Earl, LARGE Marge and ha!....CRAZY Pete & Matilda.
THERE IS also more than one story of love here, volatile family relationships, and invaluable friendships amidst the environmental dangers. THE GREAT ALONE is written with heart and heartbreak with an emphasis on survival....in more ways than one!
MANY THANKS once again to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the ARC (coming February, 2018) in exchange for an honest review. Another winner for KRISTIN HANNAH!
“Books are the mile markers of my life. Some people have family photos or home movies to record their past. I’ve got books. Characters. For as long as I can remember, books have been my safe place.”
The Great Alone is a deeply moving story about a family of three. Leni, our main character. Cora, her mother. And Ernt, the POW in Vietnam, which scarred him and brought the worst in him. The love between the parents is toxic and messed up. Although Cora was hit, repeatedly, she loved Ernt too much to do anything about it. Most of the time, Ernt apologized later and he said “this is the last time” but of course, it never is. Refusing to get help for his degrading mental health, he took it on his wife... mostly.
“Love and fear. The most destructive forces on earth. Fear had turned her inside out, love had made her stupid.”
“He taught her something new about friendship: it picked right back up where you’d left off, as if you hadn’t been apart at all.”
“... home was not just a cabin in a deep woods that overlooked a placid cove. Home was a state of mind, the peace that came from being who you were and living an honest life.”
A note on the audiobook: it was actually well narrated. The voice of the narrator suited the story and it wasn’t boring by any means. I enjoyed listening to the book but it was also something that I’d rather read regardless of how good of an audio it is. I will be listening to the Book of Lost Names, probably. I haven’t decided yet but if it’s anything like the Nightingale and the Great Alone, I’d rather read it. Now, I'm more curious about Hannah's novels and books set in cold Alaska.
Still, I felt so much reading this book. Love, hate, anger (at one point I wanted to throw my kindle but thankfully the event I expected didn’t happen), sadness, happiness, and much more. I haven’t read a book that left me so raw in a while. I was constantly finding myself like an outsider this year to the story even if I like it. I’m very glad this wasn’t the case in this book. I lived with those characters and I’m happy I finally read it. A good ending to 2020.