Book Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Words fail me as I think of how to explain what a wonderful book it is. I can't remember the last time I had such an emotional reaction to a book.

I am utterly floored by this book. I felt like I've lived another life while reading it. What a formidable, unforgettable, gripping story. I am awestruck by Kristin Hannah. She's written a story I will never forget. The adventure of Alaska was wonderful alone. But the message about strength and domestic violence and resilience in so many brave female characters was healing for my soul.

When Leni Allbright's parents take off for Alaska with nothing but their VW bus and a dream for a better life, the 13-year-old is hopeful but nervous. It's the 1970s, her father is a different man from who she knew before he returned as a POW in Vietnam. There was no word for it back then, but his PTSD was ripping their family apart. It led to drinking and eventually, to crippling domestic abuse that changes the course of Leni's life forever.

The pure beauty of Alaska that Hannah describes will send you there. You will feel the cold, you will smell the ocean and you will feel the fear of trying to survive. Leni's parents did not think their journey through. All they knew is that they had been given a piece of land in the middle of Alaska. A cabin, some acres and a fresh start. Cora, Leni's mother, is desperate to save her husband from his nightmares. She thinks this adventure will cure him, but it only worsens his hatred of mankind and his demons.

They struggle through years trying to survive the minimalist lifestyle, and though you think they are succeeding, deep down a violent, tragic climax is drumming beneath the surface. Leni's world cracks open many times in the book, especially when she and her first love are terribly hurt while trying to escape her father's wrath in the wilderness. Her father creates enemies in the town, her mother tries to defend her husband’s cruel abuse and Leni feels like her future is lost. You'll follow Leni through her adolescence and into adulthood, where she is forced to reconcile her past with the woman she becomes.

The people who help Leni and her mom survive, who make the small town in Alaska a home,  are the people who breathe life into this story. They are so real I feel like I could reach out and touch them. I loved every bit of this book and I hope you will too.

Learn more about The Great Alone on Goodreads. Available on 2/6.

I received a free ARC copy from St. Martins Press. All opinions are my own. #partner

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