Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Great Alone - Kristin Hannah



Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.
Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.
Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.
At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.
But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.
In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska—a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

Review - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I got a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for a review.

I lived in Fairbanks for 10 years. Kristin Hannah captures the way of life, the personality of the people, the beauty and the danger of Alaska perfectly. She even took care to use terms that people from Alaska would use (ex. Snowmachine instead of a snowmobile. 10 below instead of negative 10). The community she created is almost an exact replica of a real Alaskan village. You have a few doomsday preppers, a little bit of crazy, the rich, and the people that have learned to make a smokehouse out of black plastic and boards. When the Allbrights moved up there, the people of Kaneq island had seen cheechakos like them before. The community comes together to help them repair and build everything they would need for their first winter. That is how it is done up there.

I was somewhat skeptical about reading a book about Alaska. A lot of time authors only have an "outiside" perspective on how it actually is. I was pleasantly surprised. This is a beautiful, well-written book that I will read over and over.

Favorite Quotes from the book:

"Alaska can be Sleeping Beauty one minute and a bitch with a sawed-off shotgun the next."

"You know what they say about finding a man in Alaska. The odds are good but the goods are odd."

"In Alaska, you can make one mistake. One. The second one will kill you."

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