The Great Alone

The Great Alone

Book - 2018
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Jan 10, 2019

Like I mentioned, I saw a bunch of my friends mentioning how much they loved her books, so when I went to the library for the first trip of the year I picked up the two titles that kept repeating on everyone's "must read" lists. As you saw, I really enjoyed The Nightingale was was excited to give this one a read. I'll be honest, I didn't like it as much as the first one I read. Maybe the topic of domestic abuse is too jarring for me (I know, you would think that war and the genocide of millions of Jews would be even more horrific, but maybe in my mind war is an 'out there' type of topic whereas domestic violence seems so real and 'up close'). Don't get me wrong, the story was one I bought hook, line and sinker (although I would say it felt slower to me than the first book), but there weren't as many ugly tears with this one. PS Does it make me crazy if living in Alaska, in the Great Alone, would be an adventure I'd totally be interested in doing?! I would give it an 8 out of 10.

TSCPL_Miranda Jan 07, 2019

So, so good. 13-year-old Leni is used to moving around. She's a reader, an unwilling loner, and tough as nails. Since her dad returned from Vietnam, he's been restless and angry, always seeking a fresh start in a new town. Their move to Alaska could be just what he needs--or it could be a huge, dark mistake. I would have been Sam in Leni's Frodo, if we'd met in high school. I cheered for her all the way, and cried at the final twist.

Jan 07, 2019

Brilliant, hard to put down, heart-wrenching, soul-depth. One of Kristin Hannah's best.

DCLadults Jan 02, 2019

A New & Noteworthy Best of 2018 pick. Another atmospheric novel from Kristin Hannah and this one is complicated. Alaska is as much a character as the members of the Allbright family who move there to homestead and find they are not prepared … at all.

Dec 28, 2018

4.75 STARS!

Near perfection! I knew this would be a tough read since the blurb indicated a troubled and volatile husband/father suffering from the after-affects of being a POW in the Vietnam War. That only touched on this family's saga. This story was mainly told through daughter Lenora's POV from the ages of 13-28 with a few moments peppered in with alternate character POV's. Lenora was a reliable and captivating narrator with an evolving maturation that was well beyond her years due to her circumstances. Seeing the rugged and intimidating 1970's Alaska through her eyes was informative and often shocking. Towards the last 25% of the book, the story felt a little more rushed, but overall it was in turns an exhilarating and heartbreaking story with an utterly satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended reading.

Dec 26, 2018

Recommended by Elaine. Story of former Vietnam POW who moves his wife and daughter to remote area of Alaska.

Dec 24, 2018

Noir adventure story from the voice of the daughter of a violent Vietnam POW. He returns and moves her and her mother to Alaska in 1974 when the girl is 14. She falls in love with the son of her father’s rival and takes us to 1986. The voice is too grown up and too childish, which produces a wonderful plot and good nature writing if only banality and sensationalism didn’t enter too often. Flawed ending saved by strength of character.

Dec 21, 2018

Many readers have praised this book’s spectacular setting, its compelling language, its starkly drawn characters; many will respond to its tale of star-crossed lovers. But at its center is a dominant character who takes the book down a dark, ugly path where the glory of unspoiled wilderness gets left far behind and the light of young love cannot penetrate the gloom.
Ernt Allbright’s problems go far beyond PTSD. His real issue is that he’s a loser who tyrannizes his family to compensate for his inability to deal with reality. He flees from a world he cannot cope with by taking his family into the wilderness while also dragging them into his own twisted make-believe world of imagined threats (social unrest, invasion, nuclear devastation, pandemic, whatever). The only real threat they face is his own incoherent rage. The true nature of Ernt’s illness is revealed by his pathological aversion to any aspect of the civilized world intruding into his space, magnified by his impotent resentment of his neighbor’s prosperity. It’s his own inadequacy that lies at the root of his rage.
What makes the book so gripping is the fact that while Ernt is a fictitious character, he represents a very real element within our world: the angry, irrational, violence-prone “survivalist” who, not content with devastating his own life, brutally abuses his family members and wreaks havoc on neighbors or outsiders who come into contact with him. Having convinced himself that he is under imminent attack, he arms himself with all manner of weaponry and huddles behind barricades while cursing civil society for his self-imposed misery.
We are told that such men are ill, that they are victims of the horrors of way. They are not evil and cannot help themselves. In many cases that is undoubtedly true, but that's not the whole story. Sometimes war doesn't turn good men into monsters; sometimes war releases the monster that already resides there and provides a convenient explanation for his behavior. In the end, it matters not which is the case; the damage that such men do is the same. It's usually the wife, the captive children who pay the price.
I accept the view that this is a powerful book, skillfully written. In a way, it's a courageous book. But it is a hard book to read and its message is very discouraging.
I think I'll now go and re-read The Grapes of Wrath to brighten up my week ...

Dec 20, 2018

THE GREAT ALONE is mostly set in the turbulent post-Vietnam 1970s. The novel follows a family in crisis as they live out their personal dramas amid the stark beauty of the Alaskan wilderness. Survival, both physical and emotional, is a central theme. It’s also a poignant Romeo and Juliet-like coming-of-age story as well as an effective commentary on the bonds between mothers and their children. Well told by author Kristin Hannah, the book's characters stayed with me long after I had finished the final page.

Dec 17, 2018

A book hasn't moved me the way this one did in a long, long time. Excellent.

Dec 04, 2018

Haunting characters and a well painted journey into the vastness of Alaska. I was hoping for more after reading the Nightingale, this fell short, but Hannah is still a master story teller.

Dec 03, 2018

Fabulous book. Read the nightingale for sure if you like her books!

Nov 23, 2018

I found the first half of the book believable and compelling. However, towards the end it started to get abit ridiculous. It was harder and harder to understand why the mother wouldn't leave the abusive situation. Its easy to understand if you don't have the resources and the support but both this mother and daughter had oodles of support from friends and family. It would have been easier to believe if they were truly on their own. Towards the end it just felt phony and set up with all these guardian angels rushing to solve all the problems. Disappointing after such a good start.

Nov 21, 2018

Great read, page turning novel about dealing with loving someone who suffers from PTSD. The story is heartbreaking at times, but is so well written and descriptive, I had a difficult time not reading the whole thing in one sitting. I actually cried at the end, and I never cry reading books! That's how I know the book and the story were written well enough to tug at my emotional strings. My only criticism is that the book is a bit too long and get's melodramatic at points. However, the descriptions of Alaska were beautifully written and this book makes me want to visit the state and experience the majesty that I felt when reading about the vast landscape.

Nov 15, 2018

Wow! This is not a book I would normally pick but I love this author and this one did not disappoint. Her writing keeps the reader completely engaged and invested in this family, leaving you feeling like you are right there with them.

IndyPL_CarriG Oct 27, 2018

An utterly compelling book with a strong sense of place, The Great Alone fleshes out Alaska and makes it the central character. This book is long but reads very quickly - just a warning, avoid if you are sensitive to scenes of violence against women.

Sep 26, 2018

quite sad story most of the way. best appreciated with on-the-ground experience in Alaska to know the reality of long nights and cold temps up there.

Sep 19, 2018

I wanted to like this book more as "The Nightingale" but I was relieved when it was done. Enjoyed descriptive Alaska references but didn't enjoy the inevitable outcome caused by this dysfunctional family.

Sep 13, 2018

I wasn't overly impressed, though I did enjoy the Alaskan wilderness references. Found it very "Nicholas Sparks" like. There's obviously a market for it, but for me, it wasn't worth the stress of trying to finish it before the two week due date.

Sep 10, 2018

If this isn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, it comes very close. I did give it one star for the eatatic descriptions of Alaska but the plot sucks. It’s melodramatic and tedious at the same time, absolutely devoid of humour or irony. Don’t waste your time.

Sep 08, 2018

A completely compelling and heart-wrenching story of a family dealing with as yet unidentified PTSD. Cora, the mother, who is emotionally dependent on her abusive husband and Leni, who must live in the shadow of the severe disfunction of her parents. Alaska is a land that will make or break an individual. This is the portrayal of 3 people trying to survive and not break. It is a very enjoyable book.

OPL_MaggieP Aug 24, 2018

My most favorite book of 2018 by far and possibly the best book I've read in the last few years. Hannah's ability to craft believable, authentic characters is staggering and she manages to make the Alaskan wild both terrifying and magical. I found myself not wanting this one to end.

Aug 19, 2018

Once again Kristin Hannah ripped my heart open and changed it. This time Lenny and her parents move to Alaska in 1974 when Lenny was 13. Ernt was a POW from the Vietnam War. He had demons that came out and made him paranoid. He got angry at the government and he took his anger out on his wife. They were on the edge of civilization in a village that had no electricity and you were lucky to survive winter and you spent summer preparing for winter. It's a story about love, danger, dangerous love, heartache and death. But then it also is about hope and moving forward. This is beautifully written. I was pulled into the lives of the characters. I fell in love with them. I cried for them. I smiled for them. There is one moment in the book that I had to stop listening while drive to lunch with a friend because I thought I was going to be a sobbing mess as I arrived to the restaurant. This is the first time I have listened to a Kristin Hannah book. The narrator did a great job of bringing emotion to the characters. I LOVED Large Marge. If you have never read a Kristin Hannah book you must. She is a great storyteller.

ArapahoeDianeM Aug 18, 2018

I really loved this book!!! Kristen Hannah did an excellent job researching Alaska and the time period this story is set in. The detailed descriptions of the Alaska landscape & beauty is remarkable. I have been to Alaska and it is truly magnificent.
We see the main character grow from a 13-year old girl into a young woman, who has endured and survived many difficult and tragic experiences. This book tackles the subjects of PTSD (after Vietnam) and also Domestic Abuse. The Mother-Daughter bond is amazing and I cried a few times, thinking of my daughter and myself. I could not put this book down, once I started reading it. Great story and so well written.

Aug 13, 2018

I seem to be focusing on survivalist-type literature these days — My Absolute Darling, Idaho, Educated, and now this, The Great Alone. A family of three gets the opportunity to move to an isolated community in Alaska. The father hopes to escape the demons he brought home with him from a POW camp in Vietnam. The mother loves the man he used to be and is steadfast in her commitment to him, even now in his angry and paranoid state. Leni is 13 years old and has no say, but has to figure out how to navigate the violence in her own house and the loneliness everywhere else. The father finds some like-minded folks in the community and Leni finds a friend — a boy! The father spirals toward a darker and darker place and Leni begins to understand that she has got to get away. The mother is locked in her self-destructive idea of what love is.

The author had a tough act to follow, after The Nightengale, and The Great Alone was nowhere near as riveting and engaging. It did show, I think, an authentic picture of how it could come to pass that a woman would stay with an abusive partner, but I don’t think that was the book’s primary theme. I’m not quite sure what exactly was.

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