Book Review – The Great Alone

Oh my heart, this book. It has everything – love, adventure, suspense, history, horror, psychology… And then the bulk of it is set in Alaska.

The Great Alone

Few places have a piece of my heart, but Alaska has a large chunk of it I think. I spent a summer month in Homer while in college, staying at my cousin’s house with his family, and went back with my husband just a couple of years ago for a week in May to show him the place that absolutely captivated me like it does so many. This next book, The Great Alone, is set in a fictional town across the bay from Homer. It was my February Book of the Month selection, and when I saw it was an option, my choice was a no-brainer.

Book 6:
The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah

Historical Fiction

February 2018

Synopsis According to Mandi:
Without spoilers, The Great Alone is about a family of three who move from Seattle to the untamed wilderness of Kaneq, Alaska in 1974 to claim a parcel of land left to Ernt, the father, by a slain Army buddy. Ernt is a former Vietnam POW suffering from PTSD whose treatment is limited to trying to escape “the man” and doling out domestic violence on his fearfully faithful wife. The daughter, Leni, tries her best to lead a “normal” life despite her very abnormal circumstances, but while Alaska claims her heart, her parents claim her future, unless she can escape…

Favorite Quote:

Alaska isn’t about who you were when you headed this way. It’s about who you become.

― Kristin Hannah, The Great Alone

Awards (based upon my brief research):
Amazon Best Books of February 2018
No others noted… yet, but I will guarantee this to become an award winning book. 


My Overall Rating:
5 – Oh my heart, this book. It has everything – love, adventure, suspense, history, horror, psychology… And then the bulk of it is set in Alaska. Can you fall in love with a book? Because I think I just did. I’ve read 86 books since I’ve gotten married, and this is one of just eight books I’ve given a 5. 

I’m not generally drawn to historical fiction, but I was intrigued by the concept of the 70s falling into the “historical” category. I didn’t expect to actually learn things about the 70s, and I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy doing so. Hannah definitely did her research – not only will you learn about a time period, but you’ll learn the effects war can have on a man, what it’s like to be in a cyclical domestic abuse relationship and what homesteading looks like on untamed land. It’s wild from all angles, and it rounds it all off with just the right amount of resolution. I was satisfied in the end, yet I wished the story could go on forever because Leni, you’ve found a place in my heart, and I wish the very best for you. 

I also need to share that I selected the quote above as my favorite because it’s a great representation of the book. However, here are two quotes that are great representations of my relationship with the book:

She was reminded of the college kids she’d seen in Homer every summer, clots of young adults in REI rain gear looking up at the jagged, snow-capped peaks as though they heard God calling their names. She would hear whispered conversations about how they were going to chuck it all and move off the grid and live more authentic lives. Back to the land, they’d said, as if it were a biblical verse. Like the famous John Muir quote – The mountains are calling and I must go. People heard those kinds of voices in Alaska, dreamed new dreams. Most would never go, and of the few who did, the vast majority would leave before the end of their first winter, but Leni had always known they would be changed simply by the magnitude of the dream and the possibility they glimpsed in the distance.

― Kristin Hannah, The Great Alone

Ugh, this is me, circa 2010. I was changed simply by the magnitude of the dream of moving to Alaska and the possibility I glimpsed in the distance. Secretly, a part of my still wonders if I’ll make the move some day, because…

She loved Alaska’s wild ferocity, its majestic beauty. Even more than the land, she loved the people to whom it spoke. She hadn’t realized until just this moment how deep her love for Alaska ran.

― Kristin Hannah, The Great Alone

Alaska does speak to people. I’m 100% sure of it. And my love does run so deep for that land. Never have I felt more alive than the two times I was lucky enough to find myself there. Now excuse me while I linger on the warm feelings in my heart from this book before diving into the next one…

PS If you’re interested in a Book of the Month subscription, which I’d highly recommend if you enjoy reading, let me know and I’ll send you a link that will allow both of us to get a free book if you sign up! It’s been a great way for me to be exposed to new books, explore new genres and get so, so excited when the first of the month comes around and I get to pick my next book. I love it!

3 thoughts on “Book Review – The Great Alone”

  1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
    Forgive Me Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
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    The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless
    Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
    The Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler
    Room by Emma Donahughe

    And in case you’re curious, 4.5s are…
    Paper Towns by John Green
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    The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman

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