The Great Alone ~ by Kristin Hannah

I was drawn to The Great Alone because the theme of survival in Alaska, especially off the grid, is intriguing to me. The theme of PTSD related to the War in Vietnam not so interesting but not bad.  

Ernt Albright is a veteran and POW who returned home with PTSD.  His wife, Cora accommodated him as best she could but it was very rough going and they decided to “homestead” in Alaska.  The novel opens with with their child, Leonora, who at the opening of the novel is age 12. 

The Great Alone
By Kristin Hannah

2018 / 440 pages
Read by Julia Whelan  15h 3mR
Rating: 6 / general fiction 
(from the library)

Unfortunately, the theme of survival from the natural elements; freezing winters, black bears, enormous moose, hunger and poverty for exemple, disappears during a long middle section when it morphs into the tangled and twisted plots of survival of Dad’s abuse and soap-opera-type romance with one upheaval on the heels of another.  What are the boundaries of love?  

But Part 1 involves a fairly interesting story and another good tale unfolds in Part 3 (I don’t now if they’re called Parts in the book).  I suppose it’s half a good book so I gave it a rating of 6 meaning “mixed” review.  (The narrator is very good.)  
Parts of the final section feel a bit more “tell” the story rather than “show,” although it’s hugely emotional.  My opinion is that it’s okay to do that if there’s a lot of things to be told in just few pages.  

There are interesting plot and theme twists later in the book, too.  A lot of compassion is shown for a woman who is battered but doesn’t leave; what drives women to accept seriously abusive situations?  (And some of these thematic points might make for interesting reading group discussions.)  Mother-daughter relationships are important here, too.  
The characters really grow on the reader, especially in the audio version. They develop strong identities, 

That said, the themes could really have been  developed more deeply so it’s basically a young adult novel – for women ages 16 – 22 (?)  This novel may be a case of too many highly charged conflicts stretched over the course of one story.

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3 Responses to The Great Alone ~ by Kristin Hannah

  1. Keith says:

    Becky, this is a good example of why your reviews matter. Like you, I would have been inclined to pick this up and read the cover insert for my wife or me. Thanks for sharing your counsel. Keith


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