The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

by belinda
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I decided that as my next birthday is fast approaching, that I would try to read all of the books I received on my birthday book haul with my husband. He brought me to a new independent bookstore and I went a little birthday crazy. I have a strange love for books. I love being surrounded by them and surrounded by them I am. It’s just fitting in time to read the volumes of books I own can sometimes be a challenge. I am not a very fast reader and realize April is almost complete but I would like to put a dent in that list of books I bought on my last birthday. So I am up to the challenge. This book was highly regarded on the book scene and I already read The Nightingale a while back and liked it. So I started reading the book. About 45 pages in I put it down (as often occurs with me) for something else. Then on a little over a week ago I borrowed the audiobook edition from Libby (library resource). I immediately was drawn back into the story. The voice talent did a fantastic job of creating distinct voices.

The story really made me think about the needs people have to get away from the everyday stresses of life. This story was set in the 70s and 80s and many of the reasons people flocked to Alaska was the indifference with this countries’ handling of the Vietnam War and vets seeking a refuge after returning from the war. There were also people just trying to get away from the crazy happenings in society. They wanted to live free and seek refuge in the wilderness of Alaska. I could see people doing the same today with all of the craziness taking place in this country. Just wanting to get away from it all. The family that the story focuses on is Cora Allbright, her husband, Ernt who has recently returned from Vietnam and their 13-year old daughter, Leni. Because of Ernt’s PTSD he is violent and abusive at times with his family and they constantly moved around prior to their arrival in Alaska. When they finally move to Alaska to build a new home, none of them really know what to expect. They had to learn a whole new way of living through self sufficiency and bartering with the tight knit community in this small Alaskan town.  Things seemed to be a bit better but as the winter and darkness approached, Ernt fell into his manic episodes more frequently. In the 70s there wasn’t as much information available as there is now regarding diagnosis and treatment for PTSD and so this family didn’t have many resources available to help them.

I really got into this book. I was so wrapped in the drama that I found myself listening on my headphones as long as I could. I don’t recall reading a book about domestic abuse so this one really pulled at my heartstrings. The story allowed me an opportunity to view the struggles of a child within a dysfunctional family. There was no easy answers and it was very intense at times to witness the events unfold. I think Kristin Hannah is such a fantastic writer. The details in the description of Alaska was so amazing. I also really liked the characters in the town. Large Marge was one of my favorites.

I am glad I took a chance and pushed forward with this book because it was well worth the read.

I would give this book 4 butterflies

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