Martin's Must-Reads: 'The Great Alone'

Jan 15, 2019

“They were at it again. Arguing, Shouting. Soon there would be crying. Weather like this brought out the darkness in her father.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and that was a quote from Kristin Hannah’s novel The Great Alone.

The story takes place over twelve years beginning in 1974.  When husband and father, Ernt returns from Vietnam he struggles to keep a job. With a bequest of land in a remote village in Alaska, he decides to take his family there for a fresh start.

The village residents live off the grid.  No one has electricity or indoor plumbing and they spend the few warm months growing and preserving food to insure their survival during the long winter months. But the long hours of winter darkness make Ernt crazy.

Initially unhappy to leave their Seattle home, wife Cora and daughter Leni soon fall in love with the wilds of remote Kaneq. They fish, garden, can and try to stay out of Ernt’s way when the dark hours lengthen. Leni attends a one room school where there is only one other student her age..Matthew. He becomes her best friend and eventually her first love. Ernt’s irrational hatred of Matthew’s family threatens to keep them apart and Leni fears her father’s uncontrollable rage could be the death of her and her fragile mother. The book jacket says: “Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska.”|

If you appreciate a portrait of human frailty and resilience, you must read The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.