Sunday, September 6, 2020

Review - The Great Alone

Title:  The Great Alone
Author:   Kristin Hannah
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre:  Women's Fiction
Format:   Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   435
Date of Publication:   February 6, 2018
My Rating:   5 Stars

Alaska, 1974.

Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.

For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

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. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown

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. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature. 


Another amazing story by Kristin Hannah. Just like every book I had read by her this year, this book tugged at my heartstrings. I used the expression of being broken before with her upcoming book The Four Winds , and I had the same reaction to this one.

This book tells the story of a man who moves his family to Alaska. The marriage was one of love and passion, but he went away to war and came back a different man. His name is Ernt Allbright, and as a former POW, he experienced a lot of damage, distraught and often violent. His wife, Cora, believed wholeheartedly that you love someone forever. You don't give up on them because they are ill, so she and her daughter, Leni, follow Ernt to Alaska. What ensues is a cataclysm of events that takes place over several years.

Ernt deteriorates really quickly, and this has a powerful affect on his then thirteen-year-old daughter. But she loves her mother, and her mother loves her father. So, mother and daughter are trapped. They are hardly prepared for life in Alaska, and for what will be their first long winter. However, there is a small community who is very helpful, thus making the transition a bit smoother. However, things are happening behind closed doors, so the help the community, like a very likable character called "Large Marge", s quite limited.

Cora became a battered wife, but no matter how many times she was struck and injured, she never once gave up on Ernt. This was just so very tragic. I really felt for Leni watching her mother take such treatment, especially as things got worse and worse as time moved on.

I have to admit to a bit of prejudice while writing this review. In my mind, Kristin Hannah can do no wrong. I have read (only) seven of her books so far, and each and every time I am floored. Because of finding her this year, I have had the experience of complete satisfaction in her writing. That is where my view of this book stands as well. It was absolutely phenomenal.

I listened to this book via audio and listened to it in only two sessions. It was that compelling! It is a highly emotional story, one which broke my heart more than once. The character development was just perfect, whether we were looking through the eyes of Leni over the course of a few years, or whether we were looking at Cora for trying to stand by Ernst.

I ugly cried with this book, and I find that to be quite cathartic because I love being made to feel, to think, to ponder after the fact while reading, and that is exactly what Kristin Hannah has given me opportunity to do.

I think my next read of hers will be Night Road . I will keep plugging away until I have read every single book on her backlist.


Kristin Hannah is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, Winter Garden, Night Road, and Firefly Lane.

Her novel, The Nightingale, has been published in 43 languages and is currently in movie production at TriStar Pictures, which also optioned her novel, The Great Alone. Her novel, Home Front has been optioned for film by 1492 Films (produced the Oscar-nominated The Help) with Chris Columbus attached to direct.

Kristin is a former-lawyer-turned writer who lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. Her novel, Firefly Lane, became a runaway bestseller in 2009, a touchstone novel that brought women together, and The Nightingale, in 2015 was voted a best book of the year by Amazon, Buzzfeed, iTunes, Library Journal, Paste, The Wall Street Journal and The Week.  Additionally, the novel won the coveted Goodreads and People’s Choice Awards. The audiobook of The Nightingale won the Audiobook of the Year Award in the fiction category.


  1. You are so brave, this one would gut me!

  2. Amazing review Robin I have been dying to read a book by Kristin Hannah for a very long time because I have heard fantastic raving reviews about her book. I am really glad you fully enjoyed reading this book. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

  3. I love books set in Alaska. This has some similarities to The Snow Child in that the characters move to Alaska hoping for a new life after issues and find that the summers are beautiful but the winters are harsh and unforgiving.