Linda Martin's Reviews > The Great Alone

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2019, adventure, alaska, crime, families, fiction, poverty, usa-historical, viet-nam, historical-fiction, popsugar-reading-challenge-2019
Recommended for: everyone over age 15

The dysfunctional Allbright family moves to Alaska in the 1970's. The family is headed by Ernt, a returned Vietnam prisoner of war who never psychologically recovered. His wife, Cora, is subservient to him and his moods and insanity because she loves him more than is actually good for her. In Alaska they live in a cabin in a small, remote town where everyone lives off the grid. Their one child, a daughter, Leni, is the protagonist of this novel. She arrives with her parents in the Alaskan outback at the age of 13 and grows up there.

I know most people reading this novel weren't even alive in the 1970's, but I was, and I occasionally questioned some elements. Historical fiction is hard to write because there are so many details that must be appropriate to the time period. I guess this is going to be less and less a problem for future readers as the subset of humanity alive in the 1970's is gradually diminishing. Eventually, nobody will remember what it was really like back then. This book got enough of it right to be a good source for anyone who might want to know.

In particular I questioned the plastic chairs the author often mentioned, TSHTF, and bug-out bags. I don't remember those things from the 1970's. Back then we had cheap chairs and outdoor chairs that weren't made from plastic... Whenever she mentioned plastic chairs, I kept thinking of the white resin patio chairs that have been so popular over the last couple of decades. They don't date back to the 1970's so far as I know.

Also, I don't remember people in the 1970's talking about TSHTF survivalists or bug-out bags. I think they date from the 1990's or early 2000's, maybe because of Y2K. So those things kind of drew me out of the time period every time I read them. Maybe they were terms used in Alaska back then but not so much where I was living, in Northern California? I don't know...

Anyhow, one more problem... I was reading via "immersion" with the Kindle and matching Audible audiobook playing at the same time, and it seems they were different versions! The audiobook may have come about after a final round of edits that the Kindle version didn't get. For example, almost every time the Kindle book said "rock," the audiobook used the word, "granite." There were many changes. I don't even know how to tell the publisher this is a problem.

Anyhow, great story! There was some domestic abuse which was torturous to read about... and I eventually recalled the same feeling I had while reading The Nightingale - that the events were so ominous at times, I felt a burden in dreading the next horrible thing that was inevitably going to happen.

Still, about half-way through the book, it grabbed me and wouldn't let go. By that time I was so invested in the characters I had to keep reading and reading to get to the end. I love it when a book does that to me. Leni was an amazing, strong and impressive main character and I could not help but care about what happened to her.
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Reading Progress

January 19, 2019 – Shelved
January 19, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
January 28, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
February 14, 2019 – Started Reading
February 21, 2019 –
page 226
51.95% "What do plastic chairs, bug out bags, and TSHTF survivalists have in common?? They feel out of place in a novel set in the 1970's."
February 21, 2019 –
page 226
51.95% "What do plastic chairs, bug out bags, and TSHTF survivalists have in common?? They feel out of place in a novel set in the 1970's."
February 21, 2019 –
page 260
59.77% "What do plastic chairs, bug out bags, and TSHTF survivalists have in common?? They feel out of place in a novel set in the 1970's.
...
This is the second book I've read by Kristin Hannah, and they both take the characters into very dark places and set me on edge, wondering, "Do I really want to read about the next awful thing that takes place in this story?""
February 21, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019
February 21, 2019 – Shelved as: adventure
February 21, 2019 – Shelved as: alaska
February 21, 2019 – Shelved as: crime
February 21, 2019 – Shelved as: families
February 21, 2019 – Shelved as: fiction
February 21, 2019 – Shelved as: poverty
February 21, 2019 – Shelved as: usa-historical
February 21, 2019 – Shelved as: viet-nam
February 21, 2019 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
February 21, 2019 – Finished Reading
February 24, 2019 – Shelved as: popsugar-reading-challenge-2019

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