#ThrowbackThursday ~ The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah ~An intense family #drama set in Alaska #AudioBookReview

It’s a while since I’ve done a Throwback Thursday post so I’m linking in with The Chocolate Lady’s link party This book was on my favourites list for 2018.


I chose to listen to the audio version of The Great Alone, which was released in February 2018 by Macmillan Digital Audio and performed by Julia Whelan.

My Thoughts

Leni Allbright is the new kid in school….again. Her father, Ernt, has trouble holding down a job for any length of time since returning from the Vietnam war and so they haven’t stayed in one place very long. His experience as a POW unleashed a darkness in him that had his wife, Cora, and Leni tiptoeing around him, trying to keep him on an even keel. He’s not the man he was before the war, the nightmares and flashbacks leave him on edge, jittery and prone to violent outbursts.

When Ernt receives a letter from Earl Harlan telling him of the land with a cabin in Alaska left to him by Earl’s son, Ernt believes this will be the answer to all their troubles. He’ll be able to breathe, there will be no pressure and they can live as they choose, without the constant threat of danger in these uncertain times.

Thirteen year old Leni hopes this will be a new beginning and give her family a better future. Cora will do anything for the man she loves, she just wants him to be happy.

Arriving on their inherited land in Alaska is a rude awakening. The cabin is little more than a run down shack with no amenities whatsoever. Local people are welcoming, and the small community on the Kenai peninsular help them get set up, and are happy to offer advice, but the Allbrights have no idea what to expect from an Alaskan winter. The long, dark days, the cold and the lack of provisions serve to escalate Ernt’s behaviour. His rages are intensified by alcohol and Cora bears the brunt of his temper. Despite his remorse and constant promises that it will never happen again, there is more to fear than the weather and wild animals.

This is such an emotional and heartbreaking story and it stayed with me each time I had to stop listening. To say the Allbrights are a dysfunctional family is an understatement. Leni and her mother have a very close bond and she hates what’s happening with her father, who can’t seem to outrun his demons. She can’t understand how the love between her parents can be so toxic, but they all try to pretend everything is fine, while actually living in fear. 

Kristin Hannah’s descriptions of Alaska and it’s people are so vivid I could picture it all, the good and the bad. Alaska is a character in itself, beautiful, harsh and unforgiving. This is a story of survival, personal and practical, told mostly from Leni’s perspective. The colourful townsfolk are fleshed out and individual. Everyone has a story from ‘before’, they were perhaps a lawyer, a pilot, or a policeman…and each chose to live a completely different life off grid for whatever reason. Large Marge is one of my favourite characters. She has a huge heart and is very fond of Leni and Cora. 

The story is engrossing, haunting, sad and frustrating, not without some lovely scenes, particularly those with Leni and Matthew, and wonderfully written with a true sense of place. A powerful family saga which includes tragedy and heartbreak and is constantly evolving, as are the characters. Leni is a wonderful protagonist and I was rooting for her all the way. Even though I was involved with the characters emotionally, I can’t quite make my mind up about the ending but perhaps it balances things out a little. I did tear up a few times and the whole thing is a rollercoaster of a listen. The previous books I’ve read by Kristin Hannah have been poignant and moving, but not quite on this scale. Julia Whelan does an amazing job with the narration. 


349128951A woman has to be tough as steel up here. You can’t count on anyone to save you and your children. You have to be willing to save yourselves.

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

As Leni grows up in the shadow of her parents’ increasingly volatile marriage, she meets Matthew. And Matthew – thoughtful, kind, brave – makes her believe in the possibility of a better life . . .

15 thoughts on “#ThrowbackThursday ~ The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah ~An intense family #drama set in Alaska #AudioBookReview

  1. I have just finished reading my first Kristin Hannah book: The Winter Garden. It was also a very emotional book and although I enjoyed it I would be hesitant to read another of her books as they are rather emotionally draining! Interesting to read about this one, especially as I love the idea of a cabin in Alaska (😉), so thanks for the review. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

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