As is so often the case, I’ve finished a much-hyped book long after the hype. As is even more often the case, I’ve finished a BOTM book more than a year after it came out. Whoopsie. I’m certainly not one to read new releases (other than ARCs and galleys) when they are still new, but I’ve come to terms with that.
This book was moved down my tbr list many times as I saw several reviews from Litsy friends that were less than stellar. I have read two other novels by this author (liked Night Road and absolutely loved The Nightingale). I am pleased to report I really enjoyed The Great Alone—more than I expected to.
Set mostly in the 1970s in the gorgeous, brutal Alaskan wilderness, this is the story of 13-year-old Leni, whose parents impulsively move the family to off-the-grid Alaska. Leni’s dad is a Vietnam vet who returned from his time as a POW volatile and angry. Ernt and Cora love each other recklessly, but Ernt is violent, controlling and abusive toward his wife and Leni is trapped in their mess of a relationship at the edge of the world as the dark, dangerous Alaskan winter sets in.
Hannah’s writing is beautiful, and she does a great job capturing the time and place in this story. The descriptions of the Alaskan landscapes and conditions are rich and vibrant, and the cast of characters are well-drawn and captivating. I especially love how she’s written the female characters in this story. The plot itself was nonstop entertaining, and I did not want to put this book down. Full of ups and downs, it had my emotions running the gamut.
I can see that this book is not for everyone. There are triggers galore: domestic abuse, violence, gore, hunting, predators and prey… it’s definitely not all sunshine and roses, but I laughed and smiled as much as I sobbed and raged. There are parts that seem a bit far-fetched, but all in all, a satisfying, enjoyable read.