January 2, 2019
The Great Alone
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
2018 Macmillan Audio
Read by Julia Whelan
Finished on May 24, 2018
Rating: 3/5 (Good)
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 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 18 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 audiobook about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.
I started this book in March and didn't finish until almost June. I'm not listening to audio books as much as in the past, but it wasn't for lack of time that it took me so long to complete this book, but rather that it never called out to me. The novel takes place in the early 70s and there were far too many references to time period, which became a distraction, as certain name brands were constantly mentioned. The characters were fleshed out, but the abusive relationship felt like a cliche and the final chapters were predictable and began to feel like a soap opera. This was by no means as compelling (or as well-written) as Hannah's outstanding World War II novel, The Nightingale (reviewed here). Unfortunately, it's going to take a lot to convince me to read any thing else by this author.