The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)

I cried at the end of The Great Alone. Actual, dripping-down-my-chin tears. It was that good. And when I tried to remember the last time I had cried while reading a book, I realized that it was Kristin Hannah’s previous novel, The Nightingale. So have the tissues ready when you pick up one of her books!

The Great Alone is really a love letter from Hannah to the state of Alaska. She introduces the reader to Alaska through the eyes of 13-year-old Leni Allbright, who has moved to a remote homestead with her parents in 1974. But while Leni thrives in the freedom and majesty of her new home, her parents’ relationship becomes dangerously toxic in the isolation and darkness of the Alaskan winter. Leni’s budding relationship with the son of her father’s rival, Tom Walker, is the spark that sets off a series of terrible events that change all their lives. The way Hannah resolves Leni’s story–and brings her back to her beloved Alaska–is bittersweet yet absolutely perfect (hence the tears).

While I was reading The Great Alone, I stopped several times to do Google image searches of various Alaskan cities and landscapes. Hannah describes the land and water with a visceral intensity, and I felt compelled to learn more about the Last Frontier. I’m not saying that I’m signing up for an Alaskan vacation–I don’t hike, fish, camp, or go anywhere that doesn’t have an indoor bathroom–but I definitely have a greater appreciation for our 49th state after reading this book.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC HANNAH)

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