The Great Alone

The Great Alone

Book - 2018
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Lenora Allbright is 13 when her father convinces her mother, Cora, to forgo their inauspicious existence in Seattle and move to Kaneq, AK. It's 1974, and the former Vietnam POW sees a better future away from the noise and nightmares that plague him. Having been left a homestead by a buddy who died in the war, Ernt is secure in his beliefs, but never was a family less prepared for the reality of Alaska, the long, cold winters and isolation. Locals want to help out, especially classmate Matthew Walker, who likes everything about Leni. Yet the harsh conditions bring out the worst in Ernt, whose paranoia takes over their lives and exacerbates what Leni sees as the toxic relationship between her parents. The Allbrights are as green as greenhorns can be, and even first love must endure unimaginable hardship and tragedy as the wilderness tries to claim more victims.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2018.
Edition: First U.S. edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780312577230
Branch Call Number: Fic Hann
Characteristics: 440 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Meeting on Monday, July 8, 2019 at 6:30 p.m.

From the critics

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Jun 22, 2019

I read a preview of "The Great Alone" a while back and it was hard not to want to continue it, but when I started the book for real, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I have to say that I didn't expect it to be SO much better than I anticipated!

I really enjoyed "The Great Alone" and at times couldn't put it down. I actually stopped reading Tom Hanks' "Uncommon Type" (see review on my page) to read this (since it was my turn to check it out from the library) and then went back to the Tom Hanks book a few weeks after. I had to give myself time to let "The Great Alone" absorb before going on to something else.

Wow, where do I begin? Well for starters, I loved Leni from the beginning and the relationship she had with her mother. They were like sisters and I loved that. Her father wasn't a very likeable character (especially in the beginning) but Kristen Hannah has a way of softening even the most abrupt charter to where they become likable.

The journey they took to Alaska was nothing short of amazing and I had visions of a modern day "Little House on the Prairie" as they struggled with the most basic needs like food, money and shelter. Leni was a very strong person and rarely let things get to her.

I loved that it was set in the 1970's and the way Kristin Hannah makes you feel as though you have been transported into that time frame along with the characters. I feel connected to books like this that include popular songs and so forth of the time period and since Kristin is from the Pacific Northwest (as I am) I loved the references to the Seattle and surrounding locations. It definitely brought me closer to the Allbrights.

I appreciated that there was much less swearing in this book than in books of Kristin's that I've read in the past and although some of the descriptions were a bit too graphic for me, they were a necessary part of the storyline.

My heart went out to Leni's mom mainly due to the relationship that she had with her husband. As a war veteran, he had changed quite a bit and it affected Leni and her mom a great deal.
There are some really funny moments as well as a lot of intense moments and some that will make you cry.

I absolutely loved the character of Matthew but I was not prepared for the way his fate changed, nor was I prepared for the shocking twist near the end of the book regarding Leni's father. I am glad that things turned out the way they turned out the way they did. He and Leni were perfect together. And they were very likable characters. I

The townspeople were fun to meet and I loved the way they were straightforward and honest with the Allbrights but they went out of their way to help each other as much as they could as well.

After reading this, I had an urge to go to Alaska. I've been there twice and Kristin wrote the state so beautifully that I could just picture it. I wouldn't want to go in the winter but the way she wrote the transitioning seasons was amazing.

I'm surprised by all of the reviews talking about how "predictable" this book is. There were moments along the way that absolutely floored me and I love when books make me gasp out loud.

I have read every book Kristen has written at least once and this is one that I want to read again. It is now one of my favorite books that she's written. Now I am anxiously awaiting her next book!

Jun 07, 2019

I was drawn in on this novel right from the start. It is hard to read at times due to the violence, but it is captivating. It was hard to put down. Kristin Hannah is good at being so descriptive that I felt like I was there.

This was the first Kristin Hannah book I have read, and I thought it was incredible. Between the depiction of a dysfunctional, almost tortured, family, and the stark, yet isolated beauty of 1970s Alaska, this book has drama that will keep you enthralled til the very last page.

May 25, 2019

I loved this book. So much stuff going on, it has stayed with me. Really appreciated the descriptions of what life in Alaska can be like. The drama also was riveting. Highly recommend!!!

May 19, 2019

An engrossing read that lead to some great discussion in our book club. The plot was a bit far-fetched or convenient towards the very end in my opinion, but overall the characters rang true.

May 13, 2019

Disponible en français à la Bibliothèque de Gatineau.

Apr 24, 2019

I'm always looking for great books to read, one that I can read during breaks at work or that I can use to take a break from studying. I have a whole collection of books at my apartment but sometimes, I enjoy checking out a new book from the library. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah was a peak pick at the Seattle Public Library when it caught my attention and it is now one of my favorites. You can read my entire review on my blog, The Coffee Addict, at

Apr 16, 2019

I preferred the depth of this book over the lack of depth in The Nightingale. Learning about the seasonal life in Alaska was interesting.

Apr 11, 2019

This book is a difficult one for me to review. Parts of it were utterly fascinating. Parts of it ripped my heart out. Other parts made me roll my eyes at the sappiness.

Reading about Ernt, a former Viet Nam POW with PTSD was incredibly sad. The man Ernt ultimately became, as opposed to the glimpses of the man he probably was at one time, was horrifying.

I loved reading about Cora. Taking a city girl and placing her in a shack in the Alaska Bush (with no electricity or running water) would have been the end of me! I'm still amazed by how she became a woman who successfully adapted to that way of life. The total dysfunction of her relationship with Ernt was so very difficult to read, however.

Oh, Alaska! I totally fell in love with the descriptions of its beauty. I fell in love with most of the other characters, as well. Especially Large Marge. Tom Walker. Thelma. There was so, so much I loved about Ernt and Cora's daughter, Leni - and Tom's son, Matthew. They were such a wonderful support system for each other when they were in their early teens. But four years later is where the book started losing its strength, in my opinion. This was where Leni and Matthew's relationship started becoming mega-sappy.

Having written all of that, however, the good definitely outweighed the bad.

Apr 08, 2019

Wonderful characters. Great story with a great ending. Be prepared to cry!

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May 22, 2019

“Such a thin veil separated the past from the present; they existed simultaneously in the human heart. Anything could transport you - the smell of the sea at low tide, the screech of a gull,the turquoise of a glacier-fed river. A voice in the the wind could be both true and imagined.“

Dec 20, 2018

“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.” - p. 240

Dec 20, 2018

“Love and fear. The most destructive forces on earth. Fear had turned her inside out, love had made her stupid.” - p. 284

Dec 20, 2018

“Alaska doesn’t attract many; most are too tame to handle life up here. But when she gets her hooks in you, she digs deep and holds on, and you become heres. Wild. A lover of cruel beauty and splendid isolation. And God help you, you can’t live anywhere else.” - p. 347

ArapahoeMaryA Mar 13, 2018

You know what they say about finding a man in Alaska—the odds are good, but the goods are odd.


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Mar 20, 2019

This book is every bit as good as Nightingale. I got so involved with the characters that, at times, I had to put the book down because it made me so anxious and nervous about what was going to happen to them. I can't wait to read another of Kristin's books. 5 star rating from me!

Sep 11, 2018

This story of life in Alaska evolves around a family (the Allbrights') Ernst, his wife, and Leni, their Daughter who move up to Alaska after Ernst is left the property by a friend he knew during the Vietnam War. Ernst suffered from PTSD and creates havoc and fear whereever he goes. I was unable to put the book down; an excellent read and well recommended.


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Mar 05, 2019

pmeadows2020 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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