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GROUP READS > The Great Alone

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message 1: by SRC Moderator (new)

SRC Moderator | 5344 comments Mod
This is the discussion thread for the Fall 2018 Group Read The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. Please post your comments here. This thread is not restricted to those choosing this book for task 20.10, feel free to join in the discussion. Warning- spoilers ahead!

The requirement for task 20.10: You must participate in the book's discussion thread below with at least one post about the contents of the book or your reaction to the book after you have read the book.

message 2: by Erin (NY) (new)

Erin (NY) (erin_p) | 629 comments I loved this book. I loved Kristen Hannah. I read most other books by her. I have to say though that when I reached the point where (view spoiler) with still a big chunk of the book left, I knew something would go wrong. All of Krisin Hannah's book are just so hear wrenching!

This book also really intrigued me about Alaska. I have never been and the descriptions make it sound very intriguing. I live in a very large city, so it feels like a complete opposite.

Lastly, the whole part about (view spoiler) felt unnecessary. She wasn't there that long, and it was just a brief sojourn, that didn't seem to serve any purpose.

message 3: by Heather(Gibby) (new)

Heather(Gibby) (heather-gibby) | 989 comments Well I am 135th on the library waiting list!

message 4: by Marie (UK) (new)

Marie (UK) (mazza1) | 2746 comments Heather(Gibby) wrote: "Well I am 135th on the library waiting list!"

you might wait a while than Heather

message 5: by Marie (UK) (new)

Marie (UK) (mazza1) | 2746 comments The only other book I have read by this author is The Nightingale whilst that was was good I think this one far surpasses it.
It is beautifully written and describes the solitude and wilderness of Alaska so well. The Allbright family has its own lonely and wild parts and Hannah has captured the difficulties of living in their situation so well. I agree with Erin that you knew there were going to be more twists and turns. At times i felt like asking how much more this family could deal with. However I felt the the section Erin mentions (view spoiler) was an important part of the story line enabling the narrative threads to be brought together.

This book felt as much about the human condition as it was about a family struggling, for all sorts of reasons, in Alaska. I felt the author was trying to show both the good and bad of human society, asking us to consider when actions that might seem morally indefensible actually can be acceptable to society.

message 6: by Andy (new)

Andy Plonka (plonkaac) | 3685 comments There are certainly good lessons to be learned from this book. One needs to take charge of one's own life and life is a series of challenges which, if we are to learn from them, should be confronted to the best of one's ability.
However the author tends to go overboard on what constitutes a challenge, so we are not surprised when not all the likable characters are up to the challenge. What I disliked about the book was the author's attempt to make it a they all lived happily ever after, when, logically, as most of us who have lived a fairly long life, have already discovered, that life is not fair and not all of us live happily ever after. I don't want to get into specifics and ruin the outcome for other readers, but it all ended too happily for me to feel it was a realistic novel. (less)

message 7: by Laura H (new)

Laura H (laurah30) | 438 comments I just finished the book and I thought it was excellent. An intriguing story that made me want to keep reading. I appreciated the theme of strong women who persevered in a harsh climate. Leni had her mom as a role model but she also had Large Marge and Thelma who were people she could rely on for help and protection.
The issue of domestic abuse is complex; it is hard to understand why Cora stayed. But the author is right that fear, codependency, love all intersect and the abused person can't seem to figure out that they need to get out. I know people who have made similar choices and rationalizations for why they stay.

message 8: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 1430 comments This was my first Kristin Hannah, but it will not be the last. I've been meaning to read her books for a few years but have never got around to it; so I appreciate the push to finally start.

I really liked how Alaska was brought to life so well; the sense of place was one of the most enjoyable parts of the book, and a welcome distraction when everything got a little too harrowing.

message 9: by Lola (new)

Lola | 287 comments Andy wrote: "There are certainly good lessons to be learned from this book. One needs to take charge of one's own life and life is a series of challenges which, if we are to learn from them, should be confronte..."

I felt the same was about this one. Good to see that I'm not alone. (Pun seriously unintended ;))

message 10: by Kathy G. (last edited Sep 24, 2018 08:32AM) (new)

Kathy G. | 2073 comments I loved this book. The adventure was great. She is a great writer and I'd read more of her books. I thought the ending was a little pat and easy, but plausible considering this remote location. I'm a sucker for happy endings. I thought it went a long time reintroducing Matthew. I kept thinking, "Where is he?" But it was a very good read. I gave it 5 stars.

message 11: by Amber (new)

Amber (ambrosian) | 345 comments This is the first Kristin Hannah book I've read and I was really happy with it and would like to read more by her. I enjoyed the setting and the general flow of the book (especially in the first half). I particularly relished the details about life in Alaska, the complex relationships between the characters, and the various motivations for their lives in the wilderness. While I wouldn't say I found the entire thing believable, the entertainment factor made up for most of it. I do agree with some of the people above that the ending seemed unrealistic.

message 12: by Shanna_redwind (new)

Shanna_redwind | 655 comments I love books set in Alaska and in barren areas, but I'm not a huge fan of family conflict or interpersonal conflict, so this really wasn't the best book for me. I wanted to love it, but I just couldn't. I'd so much rather read about someone surviving in a blizzard alone, than surviving in these family circumstances.

I did give it 3 stars, because I found it so readable, despite really not being my thing.

message 13: by Brigia (new)

Brigia | 257 comments This was my first book by Kristin Hannah and so I was unprepared for all the heartache! It was a lot more emotional than I bargained for and made me cry. To me, this is a book that I couldn't finish "on the go". I had to take a weekend to dive into it.

I loved the descriptions of life in Alaska and the depth of the characters who will stay with me for a long time. It was hard reading about the domestic abuse, but witnessing it through Leni's eyes was a perfect way to get in touch with the complexitiy involved. I don't think I could have dealt with it, if it had been told from Leni's mother's perspective.

It was almost too much drama for me, but I still rated it 5 stars overall.

message 14: by Stacey (new)

Stacey (boydsmom) | 594 comments I used to read a lot of Kristen Hannah back when she just wrote romances, but this is the first of her novels I've read. I liked this one, but felt like some of it was just a little overdone. I loved the descriptions of Alaska, and the people that live there, I really felt like I got a great picture of the setting. I thought the author did a great job of building the tension in the house, and the feelings of being trapped were at times so overwhelming I had to take a break from reading. My biggest issue - (view spoiler)

message 15: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 3975 comments Stacey wrote: "I used to read a lot of Kristen Hannah back when she just wrote romances, but this is the first of her novels I've read. I liked this one, but felt like some of it was just a little overdone. I lov..."

Stacey ... totally agree with your spoiler remarks. This bothered me as well. I'm listening to the audio and haven't quite finished, but as I listened to that yesterday I was yelling at the CD in the car ..."Stupid, stupid, stupid!"

Also, I'm finding that I'm getting angrier and angrier at Cora for her blind refusal to help her child, rather than stick with this mess of a man. The most true statement is when Cora says "there's something wrong with me."

message 16: by Stacey (new)

Stacey (boydsmom) | 594 comments Book Concierge wrote: "Stacey wrote: "I used to read a lot of Kristen Hannah back when she just wrote romances, but this is the first of her novels I've read. I liked this one, but felt like some of it was just a little ..."


I was frustrated with Cora as well -- especially when she started giving Leni a hard time for being selfish about being with Matthew and not thinking about HER! (view spoiler)

And they couldn't have spent a little money for a bedroom door??!

message 17: by Book Concierge (last edited Oct 15, 2018 08:42AM) (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 3975 comments SO ... I've finished it and I'm rating it 2.5**

I was engaged and interested from the beginning, but I got so frustrated with these characters that I found myself yelling at the CD player as I listened. The last section of the book was totally ridiculous in my humble opinion. And I was really bothered by (view spoiler)

On the other hand, if Hannah had written a more realistic scenario for this section, the book would have been about another 200 pages longer, and as it was it was already at least 200 pages too long.

By the way, I listened to the audio and Julia Whelan does a marvelous job. 4**** for her performance. Too bad she didn't have better material to work with.

message 18: by Kayla (new)

Kayla Calhoun | 211 comments I'm almost done with the book. I've been listening to the audiobook, enthralled . Reading some other comments I am worried about the last hour and a half that I have. Hopefully, I end up liking the book.

message 19: by Heather(Gibby) (last edited Nov 07, 2018 05:14PM) (new)

Heather(Gibby) (heather-gibby) | 989 comments I absolutely loved this book. It was the first I have read by Kristin Hannah, but I plan to read The Nightengale soon.
I felt the book did a really good job at highlighting human resilience and what people are capable of. It also took a look at domestic violence, and PTSD issues.
The descriptions of life in Alaska, we’re done beautifully. I may become one of those annoying tourists in the future, it sounds like a great place to visit, but I have no desire to live there.

message 20: by Tien (new)

Tien (tiensblurb) | 1698 comments I think I agree with most of you:

*frustratingly heartbreaking story!
*beautiful descriptions of Alaska; loved all the neighbourly community feeling.
*I felt it was a very long audiobook maybe because I feel the story dragged on quite a bit; (view spoiler)

message 21: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 3975 comments Finally finished my review:

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah – 2.5**
Ernt Allbright is a damaged man; a former Vietnam POW he is prone to fits of anger and depression. So, moving his family to a remote homestead in Alaska is clearly a sign that things are going to go badly. I was engaged and interested in the story from the beginning, but … I quickly grew tired of Cora’s constant excuses for her sorry husband. She seemed to never take seriously the signs that he was a danger to her … and to their child! On the plus side, I really did enjoy the depictions of the majestic natural beauty of Alaska. I liked the self-sufficiency of many of the characters, and particularly liked the strong women of the community. In general, however, the things I liked couldn’t make up for what I didn’t like, so this gets a below average rating.
LINK to my review

message 22: by Kayla (new)

Kayla Calhoun | 211 comments I finished the book, and I agree that was an awful ending. I enjoyed the setting and the theme of resilience and perseverance but, the end was stupid. It was like all of a sudden our main character lost all common sense.

message 23: by Dana (new)

Dana (read60) | 310 comments READ 60 The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The descriptions of the area were vivid and I felt that Hannah showed through her writing how individuals needed to be tough, hardy and neighborly all at the same time. I was sadden by horrible circumstances of the Allbright family but angry at the same time that the maddness went on for so long. The ending seemed as if it was time to end the book and so it was tacked on as an afterthought.

message 24: by Amanda A (new)

Amanda A | 614 comments I have read several books by Kristin Hannah and always enjoyed them. I loved this one as well. The descriptions of Alaska made it come alive and the setting almost seemed like a character in itself. The dark themes definitely made it a difficult read at times, yet it was a heartbreaking story of survival that was very gripping for me.

message 25: by Kaora (new)

Kaora (ophelja) | 1177 comments I really enjoyed this book, although it was a really hard read at times. This is my first by the author, and I'm curious to see what else she has written. This book brought me to tears a number of times, just with the beautiful writing and memorable characters, although sometimes I did want to shake them.

message 26: by Claire (last edited Oct 29, 2018 03:04PM) (new)

Claire  | 332 comments I liked the book, but not as much as I hoped for.
Positive element: I thought it was a decent book, it was a fast read and well written. The description of the nature and land where nice too

What I liked less was the characterisation of the people.
I thought the reactions of Leni and Cora on the abuse were not allways believable?/ explained enough (not sure which of the two)

I also felt the characterisation was often too superficial.

On top of this the moral lessons were too obvious, making me feel as a child that needed help.

If this book had been YA , I would have given it a 4 stars . For an adult book, it just got a three stars (and that is generous)

message 27: by Pamela (new)

Pamela (pamela3265) | 981 comments I thought the book was just OK. I've always been intrigued by the hardiness it takes to live in Alaska, so I enjoyed the descriptions of the wilderness. However, the story dragged for me. I've read several other books by Kristin Hannah and this one is my least favorite.

message 28: by Michelle (last edited Nov 01, 2018 05:35PM) (new)

Michelle (michellesoleil) | 162 comments Michelle in Alaska

Hello... it's me... Michelle... in Alaska.


I've heard so many great things about this book and decided to read it when I saw it was the group read for this season. I love Alaska and was immediately drawn in by Kristin's remarkable descriptions of its beauty. I can see it perfectly in my head. I can smell the earth and hear the water crash over the pebbled beaches as I search for sea glass.

Then it turned dark. I didn't bother to read the entire description of this book, knowing it was so well received and that it was about this place I love. I wasn't prepared for the darkness that befell the family. I especially wasn't prepared to be as disinterested in this story as I became.

I wish I could say I loved it, but I found it to be "ok". I gave it 3 stars. I found the story to be wildly unbelievable and the characters to be unrelatable. I don't think there was a single character in this book that I liked. Maybe that's life. But it was hard to read.

message 29: by SandyL (new)

SandyL | 947 comments Well, I can't say I enjoyed this book. It was good in the way it was well written, but it was so hard to read. So much sadness, anger, jealousy, abuse, tragedy. Yes, there were some good times and I loved all the descriptions of Alaska. And, having lived in big cities most of my life, seeing the struggles and perseverance of the people who live in Alaska is admirable (and a bit crazy?)

I just wanted to shake Cora. I know what Ernt struggled with and what Cora put up with are so very common, and not having lived with either thing means I can't really understand. I did like the people from the town they moved to and loved how people came together when there was a need. And it was so sad that Ernt couldn't accept the love and help of the people around him. I really liked Leni and in awe of all she endured, and I did like the ending. I rated the book 4 stars - more on the writing than liking the story.

message 30: by Kristen (new)

Kristen (kristenia) | 755 comments I am not new to Kristin Hannah novels, but have found so much more depth in both this one and The Nightingale than in some of her earlier works.

I enjoyed this one as a well-written and thought-provoking story.

I kept coming back to the title "The Great Alone" (which I know refers to Alaska) and thinking about the contrast between the title and how so much of the story centers on human connections through love (warped and otherwise) and the strong community that the Albrights are part of in Alaska. Of course, there is a fair amount of isolation for them, as well, but I felt the connections they had were ultimately stronger than the forces that isolated them.

I spent some time being thankful for the ease of life where I live compared to living in the Alaskan bush in the 1970s. However, I also couldn't help wondering if the lifestyle they lived lent to an experience of connecting with people and with nature that many of us miss out on because of our fast-paced lives. This made me crave a "simpler" way of living. Not that it wouldn't be hard work, but I would be able to focus more on what matters most. I especially felt this way when (view spoiler)

I didn't really struggle with the ending. I don't think it's impossible to end on a lighter or hopeful note, even if so much of her life was filled with struggle. Perhaps, it was a bit too neatly tied up at the end, but I was still okay with it.

This was a 5 star read for me.

message 31: by Ana (new)

Ana | 365 comments I loved the book. However when I would get tired I felt the descriptions were a little long winded.

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