The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was one of my favorites of 2015, a tale of two sisters set in France under German occupation. Her new novel, The Great Alone has solidified her as a story teller whose novels I will seek out forevermore. The story begins with a family in the early seventies living in the United States. The father Ernt Allbright, is a former Vietnam POW, who has returned as a volatile man scared by his experience there. Leni, a young girl, who is coming into her teen years in a home filled with violence with a mother and father whose passion burns brightly and ignites a stormy relationship. Leni’s mother, Cora, holds on to an ideal that the love of her life Ernt, the man she knew before the war, will return. To help him, Cora agrees to move the family to the wilds of Alaska – yet another plan to cure Ernt’s ills and bring him back to her as he was.
Like most who dream big of starting anew in a wild and untamed land, they arrive unprepared. The community pitches in to help them learn what they need to know to survive in the brutal and beautiful land in the remote corner of the state of Alaska. With long summer days, they at first feel as if this rugged landscape is the answer. Yet as winter and the darkness descends on the family’s small and sparse cabin and dwindling resources Ernt’s fragile mental state comes apart. Cora and Leni become aware of a troubling realization – They are alone in this with no one to save them except them.
This novel is a picture of a troubled man and his family. A story of a young girl coming of age. A story of Domestic abuse. A story of survival. It is also a three stories of love. One gone wrong, one for all the right reasons and one of Alaska – a love song to its beauty and its beasts. It will hold you and take you on a trip you will not soon forget. I highly recommend The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.
I would like to thank St. Martins Press, NetGalley and Kristin Hannah for the opportunity to read this advance copy in exchange for my honest review.