Kristin Hannah’s “The Great Alone” is a powerful, painful, but also beautiful story. It is a story of a family in search of relief and understanding. Ernt Allbright, a Vietnam Vet and POW, has a hair-brained idea to start over as homesteaders in the Alaskan wilderness in the late 1970s with his wife and daughter.
Hannah’s story is painful. It was hard to read at parts. There was sadness, anger, and hopelessness mixed into this family’s struggle to survive. The writing and description of the wilds of Alaska was beautiful but is also contrasted with the harsh reality of winter, of the darkness that overtakes many months in that place and the isolation of living off-the-grid without electricity or running water.
I love the contrasting images presented. I love the thought that there is never a “final word” on something or someone. This was an well-written story with twists and unexpected turns. It does justice to the pain of grief and loss. It has themes about love and codependency . There are themes about loyalty and enabling behavior. I thought that she didn’t avoid difficult issues and didn’t gloss over the ugliness of life that sometimes exists.
Overall, this story was almost perfect with its description of the messiness of life, but also the possibility of redemption and restoration.