[Reading] ➳ The Great Alone ➻ Kristin Hannah – Dolove.info
3.5 stars When it comes to emotionally compelling fiction, without a doubt, Kristin Hannah is in a league of her own Over the years, she s taken me to the brink of hopelessness, dangled me over the edge of complete devastation and trampled my heart in the process Where I think her magic lies is in knowing just the right moment to toss out a lifeline restoring faith, inciting love and in some cases, leaving me in complete and utter awe.Naturally, having experienced a number of her noteworthy reads, there s a certain level of expectation that now comes along with picking up one of her books unrealistic or not Instead of tiptoeing around the elephant in the room, I m just going to get this over with and put it out there this is not my favorite of Kristin Hannah s work Like many of her books, this is a hefty read, coming in at just under 450 pages Where I had issues with the story the inconsistent pacing and the blatant lack of development, particularly in the back half From a slow and purposeful narrative, to an overly dramatic and rushed ending, it s almost as if the author crammed two completely different books together.When the story opens, the Allbright family is on the brink of yet another move, this time to Alaska or The Great Alone For Ernt, a Vietnam POW who s prone to bouts of anger, Alaska represents a fresh start and an excuse to leave behind the mess he s made of things For 13 year old Leni and her mother, it s a reluctant move, but one they hope will save Ernt from his demons Luckily, the Allbrights meet a group of people who are than willing to help them prepare for the harsh winter ahead and lend some much needed heart to a lackluster existence What everyone soon learns, no matter how far you go, you can t outrun your demons It s a toxic and vicious cycle they find themselves trapped in one that feels impossible at times.Kristin Hannah really takes her time laying the foundation for the Allbright family and the tedious work the Alaskan wilderness demands and you know what, that was okay with me It was around the halfway mark, when she switched gears, that everything came crashing down There is a love story packed within these pages, although despite the anticipation, I found it all to be sort of lackluster The words and the feelings were present on the page, demanding my consent, but I can t say I ever truly felt their connection with every piece of my being It s the last five chapters that take the cake for the most drama in the shortest timespan I m not saying I take issue with what went down exactly, what I am taking issue with is the fact that Kristin Hannah bounced from one dramatic event to the next, without so much as a breath or time to process The emphasis seemed to be on getting her characters where they needed to be in the end, rather than allowing the reader to fully appreciate Leni s journey With all of that said, I still found this to be a worthy read I love the thought of living a simpler life although probably not realistic for this city girl and spending a bit of time in Alaska proved to be eye opening and even sort of refreshing.As readers, we all connect with books characters writing for a variety of reasons and it just so happens, this one didn t land among my favorites Whether you re a diehard Kristin Hannah fan, like I consider myself to be, or new to her work, I urge you to give this a chance You never know, this might be your new favorite I also feel compelled to mention, of her books, I adored these in particular Home Front, Night Road, Winter Garden and The NightingaleA HUGE thank you to St Martin s Press for a copy in exchange for an honest review. Alaska, Unpredictable Unforgiving UntamedFor A Family In Crisis, The Ultimate Test Of SurvivalErnt 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 FrontierThirteen 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 UnknownAt 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 ResourcesBut 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 ThemselvesIn 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 All this time, Dad had taught Leni how dangerous the outside world was The truth was that the biggest danger of all was in her own home. This book completely stole my heart Maybe it s just fresh in my mind, but I m pretty sure I enjoyed The Great Alone even than Kristin Hannah s The Nightingale In fact, it was verging on a five star read for me until the final few chapters which I felt were too rushed and sentimental than I personally like But I still highly recommend it.I loved the atmosphere that Hannah created She deftly draws the wild beauty of the Alaskan landscape, painting it as the visually stunning and dangerous place it is Set in the 1970s and 80s, this is about a family of three arriving at the last frontier in search of a different kind of life And, boy, do they get it The Allbrights must work themselves to the bone just to survive the perilous winter in Alaska, but we soon learn that for thirteen year old Leni and her mother Cora, there are dangers far greater and far closer to home than black bears and the freezing climate They were trapped, by environment and finances, but mostly by the sick, twisted love that bound her parents together. The author wraps up a survival story inside a survival story As the family grapple with raising livestock and gathering supplies for the long winter, they also must deal with the fragile, abusive dynamics that exist within their home Ernt is a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD before anyone knew what PTSD was and this, in turn, leads to violent episodes and paranoid behaviour that threatens the safety of his family.The complexity of the characters makes this book something extra special You hate Ernt, and yet are forced to acknowledge that he is dealing with a mental illness back when no one was willing to call it such You feel frustrated at Cora for sticking by him, and yet she is clearly a victim of abuse Add to this mix a set of charming secondary characters, a budding romance, snowstorms, near death experiences and animal encounters, and you have a book that is utterly enthralling.I especially liked how the author captured the feeling of these Alaskans living in a isolated bubble of their own, being afraid of the Outside and the possibility of change You can draw parallels between this and anyone who has ever desired to put up a wall to keep the Other out Ernt as well as others in their tiny town wants to protect the community from any kind of change from anyone who might come in and affect their way of life It is, of course, paranoid and delusional.I could probably go on and on forever, but I ll just say I loved almost all of it I loved how, like in The Nightingale, Hannah shows the importance and the strength of the relationships between female characters I loved the Alaskan setting and the multiple tales of survival against the odds And I loved how everything had something of a fairy tale quality to it, dark places and broken dreams included Mama had quit high school and lived on love That was how she always put it, the fairy tale Now Leni was old enough to know that like all fairy tales, theirs was filled with thickets and dark places and broken dreams, and runaway girls. Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube Kristin Hannah wrote 70% of a novel and then 30% of a soap opera.I know this isn t likely to be a popular opinion Hannah is an incredibly popular writer whose books sell into the millions This might be a case of it s not you, it s me The same problems I found in her sentinel work The Nightingale came back to haunt The Great Alone weak female characters, use of death and tragedy as plot devises, and an overwrought, melodramatic narrative People who liked Hannah s earlier work, will probably love this book But if you ve not been a fan in the past, don t expect much to change with this Alaskan tale.The book starts when Leni Allbright is thirteen, awkward, and unable to fit in anywhere It doesn t help that her parents are constantly moving her around the country Her father, Ernt, is chasing that next big opportunity that will make him happy for good Her mother, Cora, is hoping the next town will transform Ernt into the man he was before Vietnam The Allbright family wind up in Alaska, in a cabin without pluming and electricity and far from any real civilization When they arrive at the start of summer, Ernt is able to relax in the natural setting, and Cora and Leni think he might really return to how he was before the war But as the days grow colder and the sun disappears from the sky, Ernt s demons come back with a vengeance.Cora reminded me a lot of Vianne from The Nightingale, only with an abusive husband this time Like her predecessor, she acts like a sad doormat the majority of the book until the moment she snaps out of character view spoiler and murders someone hide spoiler One thing is for sure, Kristin Hannah, hands down, is a talented author who can weave a tale I have read many of her previous novels and always found them to be beautiful and thought provoking This one, however, rubbed me the wrong way.Forewarning This storyline deals with a lot of heavy issues, the most serious and horrific, physical abuse I am trying my best to keep spoilers out of this review.Just so you know where my thoughts are coming from, I am the wife of a twenty seven year military veteran, and I initially connected with this story and my heart ached for the family whose lives were changed forever due to the traumas of war, but then I became perplexed and then disturbed with where the storyline was heading, especially regarding the actions of the father, named Ernt In a manner of speaking, I wasn t buying what was being sold The explanation of his actions, one in particular, which he committed over and over again, wasn t resonating with me at all.The BEFORE Nam screwed him up excuse Ernt s wife invariably gave, wasn t cutting it Numerous times the wife would say to their daughterI wish you remembered him from beforeYes, we are told Ernt was a Vietnam POW he doesn t do well in the darkness he suffers severely from nightmares and flashbacks Yes, he drinks way too much But to basically make the case his PTSD turned him into the monster he became, did not sit well with me It never made any sense to me why Ernt s actual thoughts were never revealed, only that his wife and daughter could see something was brewing in his eyes He acted out in horrible ways and then apologized profusely, time and time again.As a side note nowhere, in this author s acknowledgments at the end of the book, did she thank a psychologist psychiatrist who deals with patients with PTSD for his or her expertise I take that to mean she didn t seek out their input, but I could be wrong.Sorry if this sounds like a rant than a review There are thousands of 4 5 star ratings for this book, and I definitely understand why The writing is flawless, the descriptions breathtaking, and as one would expect from Kristin Hannah and as I already stated, she can weave a story like few others I am certainly in the minority only giving 2 stars.MAYBE if I wasn t the wife of a military vet, who unfortunately saw than his fair share of war, and maybe if I didn t relate to many of the issues Ernt was dealing with maybe I would have given this a much higher rating. Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear, And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could hear With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the cold, A half dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck called gold While high overhead, green, yellow and red, the North Lights swept in bars Then you ve a hunch what the music meant hunger and night and the stars From The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Robert W Service It s to the wilderness of Alaska, this Great Alone , a most fitting description, that Leni Allbright and her parents go, seeking yet another place that her mother hoped would be the place that made her dad happy Kristin Hannah with vivid descriptions takes the reader here and while I ve never been to Alaska, I certainly felt as though I was Ernt Allbright, a POW who returned home from Vietnam a very different man could never keep a job and moved his family from place to place, clearly suffers from PTSD It isn t until they move to Alaska that 13 year old Leni , realizes just how bad things are and the imminent danger in their lives I couldn t help but love Leni She s wise for her age recognizing what might set off her father s rage As she grows and her character develops, into a strong , amazing woman in spite of all the tragedy and heartache, I loved her even My favorite passage is from Leni s college application several years later Books are the mile markers of my life Some people have family photos or home movies to record their past I ve got books Characters For as long as I can remember, books have been my safe place I read about places I can barely imagine and lose myself to journeys to foreign lands to save girls who didn t know they were really princesses Only recently have I learned why I needed those faraway worlds Leni has a loving bond with her mother and together they try to survive this place with the freezing, treacherous, winters and the most terrifying of dangers that they face within the cabin where they live the mental instability, the volatility combined with alcohol, and violence of her father as he wreaks havoc in their lives and the people of the town It is the friendships that Leni and Cora make with a fabulous cast of characters that help them survive it all Large Marge was my favorite but I also loved Matthew who was the only friend Leni could remember having in her life This is than a coming of age story It s about the reality of post war PTSD, the awful reality of spousal abuse, about the sense of community, of belonging, about survival not just in the wilderness of Alaska but in life in with challenges that seem insurmountable I don t often cry when reading a book, but this was one of the times It s gripping, gritty, heartbreaking and hopeful and illustrates the versatile storytelling of Kristin Hannah It was impossible for me to forgive Ernt, even knowing that he was a POW, but he brought to mind the POW s bracelet I wore for a long time I remember his name but out of privacy and respect for him, I won t mention it here I ll only say that he was captured in 1971 and thankfully released in 1973 This book prompted me to search for him online It appears that he stayed in the Army and then after retirement went on to the private sector I hope he has had a peaceful, happy life I received an advanced copy of this book from St Martin s Press through NetGalley. Warning, I usually write quirky lyrical bits about a book This is going to be of a rant There might be accidental spoilers so steer clear if that will bother you.Again SPOILERS though not clear spoilers.Ok I truly hated this formulaic flat stereotypes everyone book I LOVED The Nightingale Made everyone I know read it I thought The Nightingale hung the moon and stars I was excited beyond words for the release of The Great Alone.The Good The first few pages were great Further into the book, the descriptions of the Alaskan landscape will move you and make you feel like you are standing there with the chill and snow kissing your face The actual writing and turns of phrase are still beautiful in most places The Bad The book put a bad taste in my mouth almost immediately Repeatedly, Hannah writes about Vietnam vets, alcoholism, PTSD, wife beating, etc as stereotypes There s no honest depth to the characters except Leni Reading this book makes you think that ALL traumatized war vets become monsters Ernst is a total worthless human being Whatever he was before the Vietnam War, he comes back as a monster There s a brief nod to something a shrink once mentioned to him Otherwise, there s zero psychological or social support Why was Ernst not seeing a therapist Instead, he chose to be a raging alcoholic and to beat his wife and later his child This is a choice Plenty of war vets make other choices even though they ve been through hell NOT ALL THOUGH The battered wife I ve known and worked with battered women Most of them would have left an abusive husband over the rabbit heart Most battered women will take abuse but will find the strength to leave the husband if he hurts their kids NOT ALL THOUGH.That s the thing The book takes the worst case scenario for EVERY character Every single character, even Leni, is the least of the best possibilities You know Job Well, that s Cora and Leni It s simply not believable It s like a formula for a bestseller I feel like for the bad thing happens that must be overcome part of the fiction novel formula, there was a list about a mile long Vietnam War vetPTSD Mean Extreme povertyPregnant at sixteen Daughter will also be pregnant in high school.Battered wifeBattered DaughterCrazy preppers Homesteading difficultiesRunawayFall off a cliffSevere brain damage AlcoholismMurderCancer Oh Also, multiple times Hannah mentions Alaska and how people worship weirdo Gods there.I get that Alaska means you can be yourself Hannah manages to make it sound like a lot of them are crazy Idk I doubt they are any crazier than the crazies in the lower forty eight She also writes about the flip side the community spirit Still, if I was from Alaska, I d feel I was portrayed like a cartoon drawing Hannah piles on catastrophe after catastrophe.How could she write The Nightingale and then this I just am gobsmacked It s like two different writers though the writing is always beautiful.I read this overwrought mess of a book to the end I m sorry I did I d be happier dealing with my quiet guilt at an unfinished book than with my internal feelings of pervasive yuckiness over having read this book Just No. What a story I mentioned this in one of my status updates and I think it is the best way to describe this book every new scene in this book is out of the frying pan and into the fire My wife recommended this book to me and we usually have a pretty good idea of what the other will like probably a 95% success rate We have both read and enjoyed The Nightingale, which is probably what Hannah is best known for even though she has quite an extensive resume of novels This book is quite unlike The Nightingale, and, dare I say, even better.At first I thought it started slow and I was having trouble connecting to it But, about 1 3 of the way through the intensity and the story really ramped up From then on out it is a rollercoaster suspense thriller tear jerker that warms the heart and will terrify you with the possibilities of the human condition.I can easily recommend this to almost anyone It is just great storytelling of a unique and captivating tale. its books like this that remind me why reading is such a passionate and worthwhile constant in my life i have come to rely on books to help me learn, grown, empathise, and sometimes escape and this story did all of that but what i am grateful for, most of all, is how i was able to read about a place i have never been and fall in love with it, how i could find an undeniable softness for the harsh landscape of the alaskan wilderness, how i could come to understand the pure beauty of a place i have never seenfor we few, the sturdy, the strong, the dreamers, alaska is home, always and forever, the song you hear when the world is still and quiet you either belong here, wild and untamed yourself, or you donti loved being able to accompany leni as she came of age and learned to call alaska and its people home yes, this story can be a bit dramatic at times yes, there is a lot going on i even saw a review describing this as the hallmark channel movie of books, and i totally get that but none of that could lessen the deep feeling i got reading about leni find love in where she lived and with a boy who saw her what a special story 4.5 stars Kristin Hannah fans will be than satisfied I found the story a little predictable and not all characters as layered as I would have liked, yet the sincerity in which Kristin wrote this novel is admirable and beautiful.with much to respect for taking on these serious themes Kristin s heart and passion is mixed between all her words on every page The writing flows with emotional intimacy.This story is told through the eyes of Leni, daughter of a former Vietnam POW Leni, an only child, had gone to four new schools in five years during her early pre and teen years She didn t make friends easy or at all at these new schools and she worried about her parents constantly.Ernt and Cora, Leni s parents, were often fighting Vietnam changed her Ernt He returned home moody, quick to anger, and distant Cora was engaged in a continual quest to find herself taking spiritual workshops and human potential courses Sure when you re hurting seeking help and support makes sense It s tough for a young girl who feels they are at times the only mature adult in the family Leni was only 13 and never had time to act out as a normal teenager The conditions of their family were just always much too fragile.to inhumane Things were especially hard on Leni s mom, Cora Leni felt very attached and protective of her mom bringing them close questionable if their closeness was always the best thing or if boundaries between parent and child got crossed however they experienced a type of trauma together neither should have had to experience And in cases of emergency traumas close is close is close period Leni says One thing every child of a POW knew was how easily people could be broken and broken and broken and broken again We are witness to tragedies..while getting to know Leni her family the community neighbor Large Marge is a standout character , Matthew, and life in Alaska Abusive family secrets weigh heavily innocence is robbed leaving an urgency for survival The Vietnam War divided our country The 70s were turbulent times Many of us old farts remember them all too well Full of protests and marches and bombing and kidnappings Young women were being abducted from college campuses The 70 s were confusing years for many Dad, Ernt, was suffering from PTSD had lost his job was offered an opportunity in Alaska a cabin to live in Alaska seemed like a hopeful solution for the Allbright family, but our author clearly reminds us that Life is not circumstantial.Funny, how life works isn t it we bring ourselves with us no matter where we go our problems tag along They don t go away simply by changing locations Leni is wise beyond her years she had to be Alaska,..exquisite, breathtaking, and beautiful, is where Leni found love lost love created love and grew stronger in who she is And..Alaska is where she came to feel most at home I especially need to thank Saint Martin s Publishing I receive a surprise finished Hardback copy of The Great Alone in my mailbox The book cover is gorgeous Many thanks to Kristin Hannah too.