Title: The Great Alone
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Copyright Date: 2018
*Setting for book challenge: Isolated Location (Kaneq, Alaska)
The Vietnam War stole Leni Allbright’s father.
He returned in 1974 a former POW and a new man with a violent streak. His love for her mother ran deep, but flipped a switch in him. And that switch hurt her mother. Every episode ended with an apology and every time Cora took him back. Meanwhile, teaching her teenage daughter that to wake up to broken glass, overturned furniture, empty whiskey bottles and a mother speckled black and blue is normal.
News that they inherited a cabin in Alaska brings Leni hopes that the move will help him. They pack their Volkswagen bus and settle on a homestead in the beautiful Alaskan wilderness. Leni’s small family from Seattle learns to live off the land and adjust to life without electricity where their nearest neighbor is miles away.
They quickly become part of their new community in Kaneq. Leni befriends Matthew, the only other teenager in town, and he teaches her how to prepare for her first winter in Alaska. He strengthens Leni’s spirit and shows her that love doesn’t have to mean being a punching bag and letting men walk all over you.
“Everyone up here had two stories: the life before and the life now.”
During their first winter in Kaneq, the citizens face a horrific tragedy that soon brings division. When they need to lean into one another for support the town scatters themselves and builds walls of hatred.
“They were trapped, by environment and finances, but mostly by the sick, twisted love that bound her parents together.”
This was a beautifully written novel about a young girl learning to survive harsh circumstances and weather. Life dealt Leni an unfortunate hand, but throughout the course of her story she learns how to live unbroken.
I haven’t read a book I loved this much in a long time. There were at least five twists in this plot that I NEVER SAW COMING. I love a good, unpredictable read. I found myself constantly wanting to know what would happen next. I cheered for Leni, screamed at her mother, and all but spit at her abusive father.
This year, my goal is read books set all over the world. This is my first book of 2019. As I complete books this year I plan to share some details I learn about different corners of the world.
I felt like I was in the last frontier as I read this novel. Glacier filled white mountains, cloudless cornflower blue skies, fjords, and northern lights all drew me into the landscape of this beautiful state. Orcas, seals, otters, bears, moose, bald eagles, ptarmigans, and cormorants were all wildlife that appeared in the secluded woods of Kaneq.
“The natural world spoke loudest here.”
I experienced both of the Alaskan seasons. The days where the sun barely set were unusual to me. I found myself wondering how one could fall asleep at midnight with the light of day still bright. Other days, the sun surfaced for only a couple of hours. How depressing that must be to endure! I learned that in many parts of Alaska one must travel over the ice by small planes and that during the winter months casualty numbers were high due to stupid mistakes and poor planning.
I’m off on another travel. Stay tuned to see my latest reading destination.
The Ameri Brit Mom