The Great Alone: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

After reading and loving Kristin Hannah’s last book The Nightingale, I was excited to dive into her newest book. The story that Hannah tells in The Great Alone is so insightful, so powerful, but I can’t tell you specifics. What I can tell you is that the wilds of Alaska (1970’s) is the setting of her story. Two young teens, living a traumatized life become damaged souls, and the suffering of PTSD (before the term was even coined) is precisely experienced. This story takes a good look at “change” in the pristine lives of Alaska, It’s a real thought-provoker. I loved it!

- Recommended by Virgie

— From February Staff Picks for Bibliophiles

"Alaska doesn't create character, it reveals it." 

Kristin Hannah's best-selling novel “The Nightingale” is one of my all time favorite books. I was thrilled when her new book was given to me. There is no doubt in my mind that “The Great Alone” will find its way to the bestseller table.

The wilds of Alaska in the ’70s is the setting of this story. Hannah describes the simple yet rugged life style in this pristine land, as if you were there. The close knit and isolated communities work together, becoming as close as families, supporting each other in order to survive the harshness of the land. 

The story begins when Ernt Allbright, returning from the Vietnam War after enduring time as a POW, persuades his wife Cora and 13-year-old daughter, Leni, to move to the wilds of Alaska. This was Ernt's way of running away from the turbulent ’70s in the lower states, filled with protests, marches, kidnappings and bombings, a world which was toxic to Ernt. 

With an "Alaska or Bust" sign taped to their van, the Allbrights set off for Alaska, full of hope. They settle in the remote Alaskan community of Kaneq, 30 residents strong, a tight community who took care of each other and understood that "fear is common sense."

It did not concern the Allbright's that their home was a shack lacking the modern conveniences of electricity and running water. This was their escape. Unfortunately, they did not realize they were joining a community that was on the brink of change. This was not what the Allbright's expected, and they are now faced with a complex dilemma.

In some ways, it's difficult to be an outsider in a community with strong ties,  and in the midst of change it's difficult to know where you fit in. The Allbright's arrived full of hope for what used to bewhile the small community in which they lived was moving forward with hope for what can be.

Worse than the harsh Alaskan weather and isolation was the confinement it caused. It only revealed the darkness in Ernt's life. He became controlling in a paranoid way; his capacity for love appeared to have been destroyed by his experiences in the Vietnam War.

Cora and Leni found themselves walking on thin ice during Ernt's winter-lasting dark moods. The Allbright family became fragile as they took turns being strong for each other.

The story Hannah tells is powerful, insightful. One can feel the traumatized life the Allbright's are living and watch them become damaged souls. Author Hannah eloquently describes PTSD before the term was coined, in an era which did not understand how war can break the strongest of minds and thus, provide no acknowledgement nor help for the suffering families.

This heart wrenching-story of a family in crisis and a community on the brink of change gives the reader the pause to contemplate Hannah's opinion, "Love and fear are the most destructive forces on Earth." 

— From Book Review: Book Captures Fragility of Family in Alaska Wilderness

February 2018 Indie Next List

“Kristin Hannah's The Great Alone is a powerful, compelling story of survival - survival of the natural elements and of the human spirit. It's 1974, and 13-year-old Leni Allbright lives with her devoted mother, Cora, and abusive father, Ernt, who was a prisoner of war during Vietnam. America is changing after the war, and Ernt thinks their best chance at a fresh start is to move off the grid, to America's last frontier - Alaska. Grizzlies, wolves, and dropping temperatures are Leni's worries outside of her family's cabin, but as Ernt's battle with his demons rages on, it's no safer inside. The result is a beautifully descriptive, heart-wrenching adventure.”
— Hillary Taylor, Lemuria Bookstore, Jackson, MS


In Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone, a desperate family seeks a new beginning in the near-isolated wilderness of Alaska only to find that their unpredictable environment is less threatening than the erratic behavior found in human nature.

#1 New York Times Instant Bestseller (February 2018)
A People “Book of the Week”
Buzzfeed’s “Most Anticipated Women’s Fiction Reads of 2018”
Seattle Times’s “Books to Look Forward to in 2018”

Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter north where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Cora will do anything for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. Thirteen-year-old Leni, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, has little choice but to go along, daring to hope this new land promises her family a better future.

In a wild, remote corner of Alaska, the Allbrights 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 newcomers’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates. 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.

About the Author

Kristin Hannah is the New York Times bestselling author of novels including Night Road, Firefly Lane, True Colors and Winter Garden. She was born in Southern California and moved to Western Washington when she was eight. A former lawyer, Hannah started writing when she was pregnant and on bed rest for five months. Writing soon became an obsession, and she has been at it ever since. She is the mother of one son and lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.

Praise For…

Praise for The Great Alone:

An instant #1 New York Times bestseller (February 2018) | A 2018 Indie Next Pick

One of...
Southern Living's "Books Coming Out This Winter That We Can't Wait to Read"
Pop Sugar's "10 Most Anticipated Books of 2018"
Working Mother's "Most Anticipated Books of 2018"
Brit & Co's "Most Anticipated Books of 2018"
Seattle Times' "Books to Look Forward to in 2018"
The Everygirl's "10 New Novels to Read this Winter"
Refinery 29's "Best Books of February"
BuzzFeed's "Most Anticipated Women's Fiction Reads of 2018"

"Featuring a rich cast of characters and elevated by the riveting portrayal of homesteading in Alaska in the 1970s, this is a compassionate story of a family." —People, "Book of the Week"

"This epic atmospheric novel examines humans' will to endure the unthinkable." —Real Simple magazine

"There are many great things about this book...It will thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet-like coming of age story and domestic potboiler. She recreates in magical detail the lives of Alaska's homesteaders...and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America. A tour de force." —Kirkus (starred review)

"Hannah vividly evokes the natural beauty and danger of Alaska and paints a compelling portrait of a family in crisis and a community on the brink of change." —Booklist

"Reliably alluring...The Great Alone is packed with rapturous descriptions of Alaskan scenery… Hannah remembers and summons an undeveloped wilderness, describing a gloriously pristine region in the days before cruise ships discovered it." —New York Times

"In this latest from Hannah, the landscape is hard and bleak but our young heroine learns to accept it and discover her true will appreciate the astuteness of the story and the unbreakable connection between mother and child." —Library Journal

"Hannah skillfully situates the emotional family saga in the events and culture of the late ’70s... But it’s her tautly drawn characters—Large Marge, Genny, Mad Earl, Tica, Tom—who contribute not only to Leni’s improbable survival but to her salvation amid her family’s tragedy." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Hannah turns the written word into wonderful prose...Times are difficult for so many in this novel and Hannah captures their suffering with sensitivity. The author expertly shows how love, death and birth run the full circle of life." —RT Book Reviews

Praise for The Nightingale:

"Haunting, action-packed, and compelling."—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"Absolutely riveting!...Read this book." —Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff, Director of the University of Miami Holocaust Teacher Institute

"Beautifully written and richly evocative." —Sara Gruen,#1 New York Times bestselling author

“A heart-pounding story.” —USA Today

"A respectful and absorbing page-turner." —Kirkus Reviews

"Tender, compelling...a satisfying slice of life in Nazi-occupied France." —Jewish Book Council

“Expect to devour The Nightingale in as few sittings as possible; the high-stakes plot and lovable characters won’t allow any rest until all of their fates are known.” —Shelf Awareness

" unforgettable portrait of love and war."—People

Product Details
ISBN: 9780312577230
ISBN-10: 0312577230
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: February 6th, 2018
Pages: 448
Language: English