“Grief this deep was a silent, lonely thing. From now on, the only time Leni would hear her mother’s voice would be in her own mind, thoughts channeled through another woman’s consciousness, a continual quest for connection, for meaning. Like all motherless girls, Leni would become an emotional explorer, trying to uncover the lost part of her, the mother who had carried and nurtured and loved her” – The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah
Leave it to Kristin Hannah to be the one to pull me from my reading slump! Hallelujah! I fell in love with Kristin Hannah after reading The Nightingale, which is in my top 5 all-time favorite books. Since then, I’ve read several others by her and have loved them all. As a writer, I look up to her writing style and her ability to pull together stories like nobody’s business. I also love that the majority of her books have some sort of historical touch to each (The Nightingale and World War II, Winter Garden and the Russian war, etc.). The Great Alone was a magnificent read that details survival, love, and loyalty.
Leni is not the average preteen girl. She has moved more times than she can count, going from school to school without a trace of a single friend. Her dad is broken from the war, or so her mother says. He was a POW in the Vietnam War and her entire life suffers because of this. Leni can only remember her dad post-war; the violent outbursts, the blood, the cries, the pain; not the standup guy her mother claims to have fallen in love with. Determined to outsmart the government and hold up his end of a deal with a fellow soldier who did not make it out of the war, Leni’s dad once again moves their family of 3 off the grid to Alaska.
While the idea seemed absurd at first, Alaska turned out to be exactly what they needed. Her dad’s mood and temper seemed to be under control and Leni was actually making friends at the quaint school in town while also learning essential survival skills. That is, until the dangerous and brutal winter came that they were warned of time after time. Sunlight turned to darkness which eventually consumed entire days. Leni’s father became increasingly more aggressive and abusive, both physically and verbally, especially to her mother. It was very hard to read over and over again of the abuse Leni and her mother suffered from her ill father. It was even harder to imagine witnessing your mother at the receiving end of such violence.
Leni is a character you will fall in love with and cheer on from page 1; you really want her to succeed and break the cycle. I loved the bond she and her mother shared and the loyalty they had with one another. Losing my mom, I fully understand the importance the role of motherhood plays and how special and strong the bond between mother and daughter is. There were many times in the beginning and middle of this book where I was so frustrated with her mother. She was given many opportunities to leave her abusive husband and make a better life for Leni and she, yet she could not break away from him. My heart broke over and over again for the pain and isolation that Leni suffered through for many years, but as the book wrapped up I began to see the depth her mother’s love was.
Once again, Kristin Hannah did not disappoint. I loved this read and surprisingly, I loved learning how Alaskan’s survive life off-the-grid among some of nature’s finest wilderness. With such a strong story of love and the bond of a mother and daughter, I was consumed in this book. The storytelling was so seamless and it was extremely hard to put it down (my favorite!). You really can’t go wrong with any Kristin Hannah book, but I think you will love this unique and familiar story that teaches us how to survive the toughest of situations yet shows the struggle of being torn between love, loyalty, right, and wrong.
“A girl was like a kite; without her mother’s strong, steady hold on the string, she might just float away, be lost somewhere in the clouds” – The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah