THE GREAT ALONE
I’d like to preface my review with a reminder of
something I said in an earlier Review. My idea of
a good book is one that you can’t wait to get back
to. Another thought of mine is that a good
book, is one that even though you want to find out
what’s going to happen next, you don’t want the
book to end. This is such a book.
The story begins in 1974, with Leni a 13 year old
girl dreading going to her first day of school at
her fifth school in the last four years. Not a
bit easy for a lonely young girl. You see, her
Dad, Ernt can’t keep a job because “nothing ever
worked out the way he wanted”. He is a Vietnam
veteran who had been a POW. He came back to his
family a totally different man. He was not only
scarred emotionally but also physically.
Unfortunately, his anger is hardest on his family.
Cora (his wife) and Leni adore him, but also fear
his violent outbursts. Then, out of the blue Ernt
receives a letter from the Dad of his best friend
in Vietnam who had died there. His friend had left
him “forty acres with a cabin that needs fixing”
in Alaska! This is a new beginning for the family
and they leave for Alaska in a VW bus with high
hopes and little else.
This book speaks to the incredible beauty of
Alaska, the many dangers of living in Northern
Alaska in 1974 (the expression used in the book is
“that you can make two mistakes – the second one
can kill you”) and the characters various types of
love. There is young love when Leni finally
has a friend named Matthew. Toxic love shared by
her parents when Cora lives in constant fear and
pain. And finally, the love of virtual strangers
who make them welcome in Kaneq and teach them all
the skills needed to survive in the wilderness.
Kristin Hannah is an incredible author with a
descriptive writing ability that amazes me.
If you read the Nightingale you probably agree.