“The Great Alone”, by Kristin Hannah

Overall Rating: 5/5

Read it, or save your time? Wow. One of the best books I have read in a long time.  Unsurprisingly, it is one of the most noted and applauded books of 2018.  When I originally read the description I thought “eh, this is NOT for me”, but I was wrong.

What’s it about?  1974. Ernst Albright is a Vietnam vet with a slew of mental issues who can’t seem to hold down a job or control his temper.  When he inherits a small cabin in a remote part of Alaska, he thinks it is the answer to all of his problems, and picks and moves with his wife Cora and thirteen-year-old daughter, Leni.  Cora, blindly in love with her husband despite his glaring flaws, and Leni, a good kid who is desperate for a permanent home and place to belong, are happy to follow.  Upon arrival, they find a small, tight-knit community of strong-willed, hard-working men and women.  With 18 hours of sunlight every waking moment dedicated to preparing for winter and simply surviving in the wild, both of which they are decidedly unprepared for, Ernst’s demons are seemingly held at bay and they are happy.

However, when winter comes and darkness sets in, both literally and figuratively, dangers lurk from both outside and inside their small cabin.  As Ernst becomes increasingly violent and volatile, Leni and Cora realize they are on their own, in the middle of nowhere, and must fight to survive.  Leni is the true heroin of this story.  A beautiful, determined character who just wants a normal, loving family, but instead is forced to grow up in unimaginable circumstances and forge her own path, and make decisions no teenager should ever have to make.

Reviewer’s Note: Beautifully written, Hannah’s depiction is so real and vivid you will become emotionally invested early on.

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