On a recent trip to Mexico (blog post coming soon!) I was able to get in some serious reading – 3 books in a week 😊. One of the books I read was called “The Great Alone,” by Kristin Hannah. Hannah wrote another book I really enjoyed called “The Nightingale,” so I figured I would give this a read!
Here is my candid review: I loved this book for an exhilarating, fast paced read. It was such a page turner I could barely put it down and I think I finished it within one full day. That said, this book is not necessarily a philosophical study of morality but instead a dramatic page turner.
“The Great Alone,” is largely set in rural Alaska over the span of several decades and focuses on a young woman, Leonora, and her relationships with her mother and father. Her father is a Vietnam vet and the family struggles to put down roots anywhere until they land in a town of approximately thirty full time residents closer to the North Pole than anywhere else. Life is tough in Alaska, there is no running water or electricity, and the looming threat of the impending winter season is constantly present throughout the book.
The book also focuses on the relationship Leonora (Leni) has with herself. I thought that this was perhaps the most interesting part of the book. Leni constantly struggles internally with the battle between her head and heart, and I think this struggle is something most people can resonate with. She also struggles with feeling like an outsider, or an imposter for most of her life. The exploration of these feelings is sad, beautiful and familiar.
Without giving too much a way, I highly recommend this book. Hannah weaves a network of relationships and characters in such a beautiful and realistic way you can almost picture each person as your flip through the pages. At times it is difficult to read, but it is beautifully written and thought provoking. It made me take an introspective look at my own life and surroundings. It created such a vivid depiction of Alaska, I felt as though I could look out my window and see the glacially carved mountain peaks, hear the bays of the seals in the harbor and feel the snow falling softly around me. This book made me want to visit Alaska immediately (even though I’d only ever be a tourist.)
My only criticism (which is maybe a common theme for me!) is I felt the latter quarter of the book was somewhat rushed and less relatable/ almost clichéd. This book developed amazing characters and I think that could have been extended in the second half, especially in the last few chapters. It shifted quickly and to me the writing felt more rushed towards the end.
That said, I think I liked this just as much as the “The Nightingale,” and I definitely recommend it for a quick, exhilarating read. I would give it 3.5/4 out 5 stars ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️. Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?