Blanche’s Book Club: ‘The Great Alone’.

Happy Humpday! This week seems to be flying by. I was so excited to start reading the book pick from Blanche’s Book Club, especially since I didn’t finish last week’s… so I’m jumping right in!

We read “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah. Here is the book’s description from Amazon:

Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

I kept seeing this book on Instagram and on book lists — it got so many rave reviews, so I was really excited when it was my turn to pick it up from the library!

I’ll admit that I really don’t enjoy historical books of any kind and I didn’t read much of this book’s description before I opened it to start reading… and as soon as it said “1974” on page 1, I almost slammed it shut! But, I kept reading.

I’m glad I did because this book was really interesting. I liked learning about life in Alaska and how this family was building a life in the wilderness.

But, it had some dark twists and turns that were very unexpected — I caught myself reading with my jaw dropped a few times.

Night didn’t fall. Instead, the sky became a deep lavender-pink; there were no stars. Leni glanced across the dancing orange firelight, sparks spraying skyward, snapping like music, and saw her parents coiled together, Mama’s head on Dad’s shoulder, Dad’s hand laid lovingly on her thigh, a wooden blanket wrapped around them. Leni took a picture.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in Alaskan culture and/or living off the wild. However, this book does contain triggers involving domestic violence.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Towers Falling” by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Feel free to read along with us!

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