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The Great Alone
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May 2018: Family Drama > The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah - 4 stars

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annapi | 5155 comments In 1974, Lenore Allbright is thirteen when her father Ernt, a Vietnam vet who suffers from PTSD, is bequeathed a piece of property in Alaska by his friend and fellow soldier. Unable to keep a job because of his drinking, angry at the world that is going to hell in a handbasket, he moves his family to the place that poet Robert W. Service called "The Great Alone".

Alaska is the very definition of wild, as savage as it is beautiful, and Lenore and her mother Cora must learn very quickly how to survive not only the wilderness, but the darkness in Ernt who drinks to drown his ghosts and takes out his anger on his family.

I had heard about the darkness of this book, and that made me very reluctant to read it. I started it two months ago and put it down after only a few pages. But because it satisfied two challenges, I finally forged ahead. At first it moved at a semi-slow but steady pace, and I would read it bit by bit, feeling the metaphoric storm clouds building, dreading the blackness it was slowly descending into. But then it hit a point where the plot action exploded, and then it dragged me along, filling me with an undeniable compulsion to find out how these characters end up, until I finally came to its exhausting yet (gratefully) peaceful ending.

It's a dark book, for sure, but beautiful too, and the same can be said for its setting. Hannah has crafted a work of art that plunges the reader into every emotion her characters go through, yet manages to keep you from drowning in its madness by reminding you that darkness can't exist without light. It's about the indomitable human spirit, about love, loss, and pain, and about family, about being human and all the beauty and ugliness that entails. I recommend it but you have to be prepared for it.


Diane Zwang | 485 comments I was given this book for my birthday. I am glad you liked it. I will have to find the right time to read it.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Love your review. I have this on my TBR list and hope to read it soon. Sometimes dark books can be beautiful. And in that beauty so much emotion for the readers.


message 4: by Nicole (new) - added it

Nicole | 430 comments Beautifully written review. Looking forward to reading the book.


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