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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah Book Review

Reasons For Reading This Book:

I get recommendations for books from a number of different sources and one of those is social media. While on social media I came across a video where the reader was sharing their 5 star reads of 2023. Of all the 5 star reads they recommended the one that stood out to me the most was The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. The only other book I have read of Kristin Hannah's was The Four Winds. I gave it 2 stars back in 2021 but for some reason I did not remember this so I thought I had liked it a lot more than I did. Anyway, the way the reader in the video described the emotional rollercoaster that is this book, I checked it out from the library and read it over the Christmas Holiday and into the 2024 New Year. I should also mention I have never taken a recommendation from this specific reader before. 

Content of This Book:

Leni's father, Ernt, is a Vietnam War veteran who came back from the war a changed man, not for the better. He is abusive, angry, paranoid, and can't manage to keep a job as a result of this. After many failed attempts at new cities and jobs, the Allbright's learn that Ernt's buddy Bo Harlan from Vietnam left him his property in the Alaskan bush. Without much preparation that family leave their life in Seattle and head to the Alaska. The family is quickly swept into the care of the locals as they help them to prepare for the winter. The winter in Alaska is dangerous and isolating. Each family member is able to make friends with someone in the community. For Leni that is Matthew Walker, who's father Ernt despises. For Cora, the mother, she makes friends with Large Marge, Tom Walker, and other mother's in town. For Ernt he becomes friends with Mad Earl, Bo Harlan's father. Winters are tough for the family in more than one way. One winter Cora and Leni are snowed into the cabin and find themselves truly alone. Another winter brings Ernt to his breaking point. With a passionate and toxic relationship between her parents and the instability of her childhood, Leni craves true friendship and belonging. Is Alaska that place for her? Will it save her family or will everything begin to crumble one final time? 

What I Liked About This Book:

As someone who does not have much knowledge of Alaska, let alone off grid living in Alaska, I was intrigued to read about all that it takes to survive in such a place. I found the support and assistance provided by the community to be inspiring and one of my favorite parts of the book. I also found the logistics of getting supplies to that part of the state to be interesting and crucial to building a full picture of life there. One of the main repeated themes in this book was how dangerous it is to live in a place like this. Not only were expamples given for how dangerous it was, it also played out in the plot and brought home the idea of 'The Great Alone'. Another aspect of the plot that I found both educational and entertaining was the inclusion of what was taught in the school Leni attended. It was by no means a traditional curriculum, but provided the reader with more knowledge of Alaska and the life skills the teacher thought was necessary for the students to learn. A part of the book that kept me reading, was that I had no inclination for how the story would end. Here and there I would think oh maybe this will happened and their story will end this way but really I was just so engrossed in the current plot that it was hard to think of a possible ending. As with any Kristin Hannah book the writing, literary tools, and descriptions are perfection and make for an all encompassing read. The author does not shy away from detail, with this comes cases for the better and for the worse. I remember from my last Kristin Hannah read that I was able to picture every scene and its details, the same is true for The Great Alone. One last compliment that I will give is that because this book spanned many years, the author was able to show growth, maturation, and actually learning from lessons by the characters. One of the areas of a book that I look for is growth from the experiences lived during the book, so reading about the perspective, lessons, and personal changes made from those experiences helped to progress that character development throughout the book. 

What I Disliked About This Book: 

I do not appreciate that the book summary did not have a warning that it included abuse. I was not expecting this to become a main plot point. I am someone who cannot stand to watch violence or gore of any kind, so the inclusion of abuse in this book is a major turn off for me. I blame both the recommender and the author for not including this as a warning. I believe if I would have known that abuse was a main plot point I would not have read the book to begin with. Even through there are many parts of this book that I like and enjoyed, I still feel sick to my stomach from reading and having to picture the abuse. There were many times while reading that I heavily debated returning the book to the library because I was so disgusted. I did know from the recommender that this book had emotional highs and lows, but I was not prepared for how low and dark this book would get. Overall, I did enjoy the book and what I learned from it, but the inclusion of the abuse outweighs the positives. Another thing that I was bothered by, but not necessarily disliked, was the inclusion of new characters POV later on in the book. Not only was I not expecting this, I was also not in love with the choice because I feel it did not add more to the plot and character development than was was already happening in the main character's POV chapters. 

Would I Recommend This Book?

During and after reading this book I talked to a few people about it, some co-workers and my mom. When talking about it I reiterated that there is abuse. I would only recommend this to people who are emotionally strong or not affected by the content they consume. I sadly am not one of those so this book put me in a dark place and was tough to read. With that being said this book does tell an incredibly compelling story of living in Alaska and survival, and the reader is brought into the highs and lows of a struggling family. Not all of this book was for me, but that does not mean it will not be for you so take what I said here to decide if this book is one you can read. 

Check out my book reviews for 2023!!

Horse by Geraldine Brooks  
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Hester by Laurie Pico Albanese
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Environmental and Sustainability Book Reviews 2022
Self-Improvement Book Reviews 2022
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Not All Diamonds and Rosé by Dave Quinn
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham 
Girls With Bright Futures by Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman
Run, Rose, Run by James Patterson and Dolly Parton
The Summer Series by Jenny Han
A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard
The Housewives: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives by Brian Moylan
Verity by Colleen Hoover
All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart 
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Majesty: American Royals 2 by Kathrine McGree
Every Last Secret by A.R. Torre

Check out my book reviews for 2021!!

2021 Book Rankings

Beach Read By Emily Henry
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Educated by Tara Westover
The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig 
The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins 
We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins 
We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Klara and the Sun 
The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner
American Duchess by Karen Harper 
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Girl With No Job by Claudia Oshry
Down the Habit Hole by Holly Madison Book Review
My Story by Elizabeth Smart
Layla by Colleen Hoover

Check out my book reviews for 2020!!

Check out my book reviews for 2019!!

Check out my book reviews from 2018!!

Don't forget to stay up to date on my blog by following my social media accounts!
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