Book Review: The Great Alone

Title: The Great Alone
Author: Kristin Hannah
Genre: Historical Fiction-Literary Fiction
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Pages: 448
Buy This Book: Amazon/Audible (affiliate link)

“Leni had seen all of this before. Ultimately, it didn’t matter what she or Mama wanted.
Dad wanted a new beginning. Needed it. And Mama needed him to be happy.
So they would try again in a new place, hoping geography would be the answer. They would go to Alaska in search of this new dream.”

Domestic violence stories tend to pull the hardest at my heartstrings and The Great Alone was no exception. This book was well written, poignant, and compelling. Exactly what I expected from a Kristin Hannah book, based on everything I’ve seen and heard about her previous books (this was the first book of hers that I’ve read myself).

Hannah’s descriptive writing style allowed me to perfectly visualize the vast, remote wilderness of the Alaskan bush as it was in 1974. I could actually imagine myself there alongside the Allbright family – settling into an unknown and isolated community, learning to survive off the land, and battling the elements of a harsh climate and dangerous, feral wildlife. I could almost feel the isolation and inevitable loneliness this type of a place forces on the people who choose to live there, offset by the strength and sense of solidarity they share with one another. 

The characters are well developed, multi-layered, and relatable. The story is told from Leni’s point of view and I experienced a full roller coaster of emotions vicariously through her. I laughed with her; I cried for her; I felt her frustrations, fear, and desperation. But I also recognized her hope and (admittedly, misguided) optimism for everything to work out in the end. When tragedy struck the Allbright household, I felt my heart breaking for her.

The only thing I didn’t like about The Great Alone was the ending. It seemed to clash with the rest of the story, almost as if the author regretted an earlier plot decision and was trying to compensate for it or outright undo it, although it was not something that could really be undone (no spoilers, but I’m sure you’ll recognize what I’m talking about right away). It also felt somewhat rushed, especially compared to the slower pacing of the rest of the book. For that reason, I’m giving this book an overall score of 4/5.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for my honest review.


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