5 star reads - Courtney

(AudioBook) The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah


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 the 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.

I have so many feelings about this book, all good of course. I just don’t think I’ll be able to do this book justice in my review because it was such an emotional read. I didn’t expect any of what I got out of this. I knew very little about this book going in. I saw it on Book of the months best of the year reads and figured id give it a shot. Man was I ever glad I got a copy. I will also say if you loved where the crawdads sing you will most likely enjoy this one. I loved both and they are very similar in quite a few ways, just different characters, and scenery.

Your MC is Leni, she is the daughter of Cora and Ernt Allbright. Ernt is a War Veteran and was a POW (Prisoner of War). When he finally returns home he is struggling with PTSD, he is having flashbacks and nightmares. This book takes place in the 70s so there wasn’t as much help for people that had gone through what he did. He is very abusive to his wife and controls every move that Cora and Leni do.

Ernt has a friend pass away and leaves ernt quite a chunk of land for him in Alaska. Ernt immediately thinks that this is what his family needs, that everything will be better for them and his nightmares and flashbacks will go away and they will be a happy family again.  Ernt packs his wife and child up and they head to Alaska with no plan or clue as to how to live or survive. The place they go to in Alaska is the last frontier, there is very little to no power. They have outhouses and you keep warm by the fire, you hunt and grow what you eat, completely off-grid living.

First, I want to say that there are very graphic scenes of domestic abuse as Ernt beats Cora. He is also an alcoholic and drinks very heavy to try and deal with his PTSD. So if these are things you are not good with reading or trigger you, I highly recommend skipping this one.

This book honestly blew me away and legitimately made me cry towards the end. I’m still putting my heart and soul together after I finished reading it. I was not prepared at all for any of the scenes or what happened in this book. I went into it basically not knowing nothing and I’m honestly glad I did.

The way Kristin writes is so atmospheric and beautiful. You genuinely feel trapped alongside Cora and Leni in Alaska. You feel the chills and cold of winter as you read because you just get so wrapped up in what’s happening and the writing. Winter in Alaska is something they have to prepare for all year round and there are only 4-5 hours of daylight in wintertime and it gets very dangerous and people disappear all the time. So they have to be careful and prepare.

The aspect I loved most was the mother/daughter relationship in this book. Cora and Leni lean so much on each other throughout this whole book. They are trapped with Ernt and don’t know what to do. Their relationship goes through hell and it just pulls at your heartstrings.

Overall I absolutely adore this book and it is probably my favorite of 2019. This will be re-read and have a special place on my shelf even though it shredded me to pieces and put me back together. Its gonna take something pretty incredible to get the number one spot over this. Also, the hype is worth it, I was cautious myself but it’s so worth it. I hope you all get the chance to pick it up and enjoy it.

Courtney 💛

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