Sunday, March 31, 2019

My take on: The Great Alone

Tackling my TBR is an ongoing feat, especially reading books I own vs. reading review books. I'm not sure how long ago I bought The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, but I'm sure it was a least six months ago. In an effort to read more of my own books, I keep a TBR cart, yes an actual rolling cart, filled with my own books. Sort of a daily reminder: Hey read me! My rule going forward, at least one of my current reads has to be a book I purchased. So, I finally plucked The Great Alone from the cart. Plus, it's a family story, which is right in my wheelhouse.


Why? Let me tell you.

In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, former POW Ernt Allbright has come home to his wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni. But he's not the same man. He's consumed by nightmares and often drowns himself in alcohol to cope. He drifts from job to job and town to town, with his family in tow. Never setting down roots anywhere. One moment he's the happy and loving man who Cora and Leni remember, and the next he's a violent monster. Cora holds onto the belief that the man she loves is still buried beneath the surface. Leni isn't sure what to believe or how to feel. Is it normal for a man to emotionally and verbally abuse his family until they reach their breaking point? What is normal? Leni isn't sure anymore. Ernt thinks he has the answer to their problems: move to Alaska!

Thanks to a former Vietnam buddy, Ernt has just inherited a small cabin in a remote Alaskan town. Cora and Leni are skeptical about the move, but learn to embrace it when they see how happy Ernt is. The town is small but closeknit, everyone ready to lend a helping hand or to offer advice. As former city dwellers, the Allbright family needs all the help they can get. Their new neighbor, Large Marge, gives them the lowdown on stocking up on food for the harsh winters and how to build things. In the beginning, moving to Alaska is just what the doctor ordered. Ernt loves living off the land and providing for and protecting his family. Cora and Leni begin to love it too, even making friends. Leni has her first crush. Matthew Walker is one of the few boys her age, so Leni quickly takes a liking to him.

The Allbright family might have finally caught a break. But the happiness is short-lived. As winter approaches, everyone stays closer to home rather than getting caught out in the cold. Staying closer to home sounds good in theory, but it comes at a price. Stuck inside with his thoughts, Ernt starts to have more nightmares, drinks even more alcohol, and violently attacks his wife over the smallest things. And when he does venture out, Ernt doesn't like what he sees. Tom Walker, in addition to being Matthew's father is also the richest man in their neck of the woods, wants to bring change to the town. Change for the good, like bringing in electricity to the more remote areas, remodeling the local bar, and bringing in tourists. It's not the kind of change that Ernt wants. Anybody siding with Tom Walker, even his own family, is seen as a traitor to Ernt.

As she's gotten older, Leni knows that her father is toxic for her own physical and emotional health. She wants to escape him, but how can she leave her mother behind? How can you leave behind someone you once loved and admired? How do you break the never-ending cycle of abuse? And, it's not just her father that Leni would be leaving behind. Matthew. The boy she's grown to love and the town she's grown to love are a part of Leni. How do you leave everything that makes you you behind? And at what costs?

If you can't tell, I LOVED THIS BOOK! I found the story to be addicting, I almost missed by bus stop because of it!

Rating: O.M.G. !!

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