"Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.
Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family...
At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.
But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own."
Synopsis from Goodreads.
Lately, I have been insatiable for books set in remote, frozen places. (When I say "lately," I really mean for the last two years). This novel not only didn't disappoint, it blew me away. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah was absolutely breathtaking from start to finish.
It's been about four months since my last book review. That, paired with the fact that I am three days into a brutal cold, makes writing a review a little difficult. So, I'm going to do something that I did for my review of Today Will Be Different and make this review in list form.
Things I loved:
1. Alaska, in the hands of Kristin Hannah, is majestic - expansive and unforgiving and beautiful. With words, she paints a gorgeous picture, but she does not over-romanticize it.
2. Hannah is phenomenal at crafting characters. As we get to know the small town and its cast of eccentric characters, it's hard not to become completely engrossed in the lives of all of them. Even the detestable characters are fully imagined and completely fascinating.
3. It takes a lot of skill as a writer to shine light on an issue without it seeming too preachy. Speaking as someone without first-hand experience, I felt that Hannah did a great job of talking about domestic violence in a realistic way: the complicated emotions felt by the victim, the way it touches an entire family, and the difficulties of finding a way out.
Things I did not love:
1. This book made me cry so. much. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - but I usually don't cry at books and this was almost excessive. It's also probably a big part of why I loved this book: it made me feel a lot of feels.
This book has so much heart. It's about family, resilience, and the lengths we'll go through for the ones we love. I can't recommend it enough!
Before reading this novel, you should know there is a trigger warning for domestic violence and assault.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah will hit shelves on February 6, 2018.
**Thank you to St. Martin's Press for sending me an early copy in exchange for an honest review.**