Saturday, February 03, 2018

Sad, Sweeping Alaska Family Drama a Gripping Tour-de-Force

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Leni Allbright has never really known a normal life.  At 13, she lives a transient, poverty-stricken existence with her parents, whose volatile marriage has only gotten more violent.  Her father, Ernt, suffers from PTSD thanks to his recent stint in the Vietnam War.  Tormented by paranoia and anxiety, he can't hold a job, which only makes him more mercurial.  Despite escalating abuse from Ernt, Cora Allbright refuses to leave the husband she loves, even if he's no longer the man she married.  Caught in the middle, Leni can only hide herself in books and pray for better days.

When Ernt receives a letter informing him that he's inherited a cabin in Alaska from a dead war buddy, he makes the impulsive decision to move ASAP.  Both Leni and Cora are leery, but hopeful the change of scenery will soothe Ernt's troubled soul.  When the Allbrights reach Kaneq, a remote town accessible only by boat (except at low tide when it's completely cut off), the women begin to understand just how woefully unprepared they are for homesteading in the middle of nowhere.  Despite the help they receive from the ragtag bunch who populate Kaneq, Leni's anxiety continues to grow.  As winter comes on with its dark, endless days and brutal, isolating weather, what will happen to Ernt's already erratic moods?  Cora wears the evidence of his rage all over her body—how much more can she stand?  When the changing whims of the Alaskan wilderness become less dangerous than the perils within her own home, Leni knows only she has the power to save herself and her disintegrating family.  Is she strong enough to survive in a place so inhospitable that only the toughest—or craziest—people have the audacity to live there?  She's about to find out.

One of my favorite WWII novels is Kristin Hannah's 2015 best-seller The Nightingale.  That epic tale swept me away and I've been waiting with bated breath for its author to give a repeat performance as brilliant.  Although her newest, The Great Alone (available February 6, 2018), differs from The Nightingale in time, place, and theme, it's just as sweeping, just as engrossing, just as impacting.  Atmospheric and haunting, this is a sad but beautiful book about resiliency and redemption.  I loved everything about it.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (no F-bombs), violence, disturbing subject matter, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of The Great Alone from the generous folks at St. Martin's Press.  Thank you!

4 comments:

  1. I am starting to see this book on multiple blogs and it sounds good and intense.

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  2. Now I’m leaning towards reading this author. So, so, so many books!!!

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  3. I got this one as my Book of the Month selection and am waiting on it to arrive. I used to read this author's books long ago, but haven't in a while. I've had The Nightengale on my Kindle for a long time. Guess I ought to read it, right?

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  4. I'll have to check out this book and/or The Nightingale. :)

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