Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone: A Review
In a remote region of the Alaskan wilderness, former Vietnam POW Ernt struggles to rethink his life as a pioneer with his wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni. Descriptions of the 1970s and the aftermath of the Vietnam War open. The great solo. Ernt seems like a lost soul after his capture as a prisoner of war. Memories of torture and PTSD plague him until he discovers that a friend has given him a cabin and a plot of land in Alaska.
Kristin Hannah masterfully depicts the landscape of glacier-filled mountains, paint-blistered houses perched on stilts above the muddy water, long sunny days with pink skies at night, and potholed gravel roads. As the neighbors help the family rebuild their ramshackle cabin, we learn how all efforts are top priority to survive the harsh winter. The neighbors are friendly, life is tight, and fear is always present. Strenuous work is the ticket to a new life.
Winter begins with daylight receding in the background, a metaphor for Ernt’s gloomy moods as he struggles with the limitations of his new life. Domestic abuse ensues. Leni finds an escape with a boy in the city. Mother and daughter take turns supporting each other. The plot twists are neatly executed. “Neighbors”, “loneliness” and the “face of Alaska” become main characters. Hearts soar, only to be crushed again.
By painting with words, Kristin Hannah knows how to capture the reader’s attention. You will be intertwined with its story to the last page. Highly recommended.
I thank NetGalley and the publisher for the preliminary copy in exchange for my unbiased review.