BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah [in Library Journal]

Meet the Allbrights: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-afflicted Vietnam War returnee Ernt, his perennially in-denial wife Cora, and mature-beyond-her-years teenager Leni. Bequeathed a remote homestead in 1974 by a fallen army buddy, Ernt relocates his family to wild, remote Alaska, chasing dreams of self-sufficiency and simple independence.

The family’s dramatic unraveling as unprepared pioneers is exacerbated by Ernt’s alcoholism-fueled brutality, Cora’s desperate forgiveness, and Leni’s unwillingness to reveal her parents’ toxic bond even to the most welcoming, experienced locals. Despite her complicity, Leni finds friendship and love – and, eventually, salvation.

Chameleonic veteran Julia Whelan makes the 15 hours of Kristin Hannah’s (The Nightingale) latest best seller unstoppable, as she agilely narrates the twists and turns. Her characterizations beyond the fearsome trio are especially affecting, including general store owner (and former DC prosecutor!) Large Marge and Leni’s soulmate Matthew in all his post-accident frustration and miraculous struggles toward recovery. Throughout the darkness and destruction that abounds, remember the name is Allbright – glimmers of lightness illuminate, with a final on-the-bright-water scene that will leave readers swathed in relief and joy.

Verdict: Libraries should prepare for guaranteed demand.

Review: “Media,” Library Journal, July 1, 2018

Readers: Adult

Published: 2018


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