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The Best Book I've Read Recently


I originally planned to wait until I read a few more books to write my typical round-up of recent reads, but I finished this a month ago and don't want to wait any longer to share. It's the perfect time to read this book as we round the corner into winter, and it's such a great one that a stand-alone post on it is well-justified. So, let's talk about The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.


If you usually check out my books recs (all book posts here!), you know I usually opt for light beach reads, or the [very] occasional thriller. My go-to author is the well-known Nantucket-bred Elin Hilderbrand, who writes the most perfect fictional light reads about families and friends on Nantucket and the like. So, selecting The Great Alone was a bit outside my typical category, but it was so worth it. 



It is the story of powerful women, both fiercely independent yet dedicated to their community. It is also the story of love, both young and old, both true and toxic. There are loss and murder, but most of all, it is a story of survival. It's fascinating, frustrating, uplifting, and heartbreaking all in one. If you've great Where the Crawdads Sing, this sort of reminds me of that.  Themes of loneliness, heartbreak, loss, solitude, nature... they're all there in both books. But, I liked this one better; there's a bit more to it when it comes to plot/storyline/character development. It's. So. Good.


Here's a quick summary: 
adapted from the website 

When Ernt Allbright comes from Vietnam after spending time as a POW, he's desperate for a fresh start and makes the impulsive decision to move his family, including wife Cora and thirteen-year-old daughter Leni, to Alaska. His hope is to live a remote life and find peace. 

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 that welcomes their family and is more than willing to help the Allbright's prepare for winter.

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 darkness, 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.

My Thoughts: 

This book is sad... but also really beautiful. First of all, the descriptions and imagery of Alaska are fascinating. Honestly, I feel like I got a pretty solid educational lesson on the Alaskan lifestyle just by reading this. The first 100ish pages of the book are slow, but the details really set up the rest of the book for success. I didn't think I was interested in learning about anything Alaska or winter survival, but I was completely enthralled.

As the storyline builds, there are a few plot twists that break your heart, and then put it all back together. I cried so hard at some points and truly felt for the characters. The strong women in this book are incredibly well-developed throughout the storyline, and I loved the intersection of both independence and community.

I feel like I could understand Cora and feel for her even though I didn't agree with her choices. I loved that Leni reacted to circumstances and situations the way I hoped she would and that certain characters ended up making certain decisions at all the right times. I loved that I felt constantly surprised by each event, but that every detail helped build the story... I was never bored!

This book is kind of long (over 400 pages) but I am so grateful it didn't end earlier than it did. It definitely could've, but I loved that this waited to end until it really wrapped things up. The ending was perfect in my opinion, which makes or breaks a book for me most of the time.


Have you read The Great Alone? What's the best book you've read recently?
xoxo

PS- if you have read this book I recommend checking out this video of Kristin Hannah speaking on it. I found it really interesting, especially how she thought it was never good enough throughout the writing process!

2 comments

  1. I listened to the audiobook a few months ago but now I want to read the physical print copy. I cried so much over this book but in the best way. Absolutely loved it!

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    Replies
    1. I cried so much too!!! I've heard great things about the audiobook... might have to listen to it soon!!

      Thanks for reading, Kim!

      xo, Fran

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