I bought The Great Alone on a whim this spring and I’m just getting around to reading it. This book reminded me of The Shining and Gilmore Girls mixed together. I know that’s a weird comparison, but it works. It was an interesting read outside of my comfort zone, but it was enjoyable.
When Ernt Allbright returns home from the Vietnam War, he decides to move his family to Alaska. Thirteen year old Leni, hopes it’s the start of a bright new future for her family. Her mother, Cora, would follow Ernt anywhere. Including America’s last frontier. They find a home off the grid among some of the strongest men and women in the country. As winter creeps closer, Ernt’s mental health slowly deteriorates. Leni and her mother must learn how to survive on their own because the biggest threat that they face lives in the same cabin as them.
My Thoughts on The Great Alone
The Great Alone is a coming of age story. Watching Leni grow up in the harsh environment showcases the human ability to adapt to the most difficult surroundings. She truly loved Alaska even though she face some of her most challenging years there.
While Leni is the center of the story, the whole family was really well developed. My heart broke for them in so many ways. Cora faced terrible domestic violence. During those moments I absolutely hated Ernt. However, the author wove his character in a way that you felt like you were in Cora’s shoes. She made you experience the emotions that Cora felt for her husband. There was hatred, fear, compassion, and love of the man that he used to be. It was a completely heartbreaking situation.
My main complaint with The Great Alone was that it could have ended sooner. At a certain point the story was coming to a conclusion, but then I realized there were a hundred more pages. It took a turn that I didn’t necessarily love. The story already felt fully developed, but then an extra conflict was tacked on to the end.
When The Great Alone actually ended I was satisified. I enjoyed the conclusion even though it felt like it went around the world to get there. I think if there had been a little more streamlining this could have been a new favorite. Unfortunately, it ended up falling a little short.
My Rating: 3/5
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