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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
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Great Alone by Kristin Hannah is the kind of book you reluctantly put down at midnight and pick up first thing in the morning with your morning coffee. Set mainly in the far reaches of Alaska, Hannah’s prose is as crystalline and sharp as an ice-filled Alaskan winter. The rich descriptions detail the pristine, unyielding wilderness of Alaska and the tenacity of the early homesteaders—an offbeat collection of individuals who relish isolation but also define the meaning of community and loyalty.

It’s the turbulent early ‘70s and disenfranchised soldiers are returning from Vietnam. Leni’s father, Ernst, has been in a POW camp for six years. He’s disillusioned and angry, and finds it impossible to fit back into “normal” life in the states. After losing yet another job, he announces that a fallen war buddy has left him a piece of land in a sparsely populated area of Alaska, and he’s packing up his wife, Cora, and thirteen-year-old daughter, Leni, to homestead the land. A new beginning, or the beginning of the end?

So many topics are covered in this engrossing novel, it’s hard to catch your breath: coming of age and trying to fit in, self-discovery, fresh young love and dangerously co-dependent love, spousal abuse, passion, hate, PTSD, delusional conspiracy theories and the survivalist mentality, the power of friendship, and both the freedom and danger of living off the grid. There are new beginnings and abrupt endings; passion, jealousy, and rancorous hate; forgiveness and acceptance… Hannah packs it all into The Great Alone.

If I have any criticism of this book it is that Hannah seemed to fall so in love with her characters, she couldn’t let them go. The last fifteen percent or so of the book could have been consolidated or written as an epilogue. There were several excellent spots and closing lines, but the story continued when it might have benefited from swifter wrap-up.
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Reading Progress

June 19, 2020 – Started Reading
June 19, 2020 – Shelved
June 21, 2020 – Finished Reading

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