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Midwest Book Mom Presents: The Great Alone Book Review

Book Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Kristin Hannah’s novel, The Great Alone, needs a bright red warning sticker slap to the front informing all readers to be prepared for an emotional roller coaster.

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I had the opportunity to listen to The Great Alone on Audible narrated by the talented Julia Whelan. Listening to this novel, I understand why The Great Alone won 2018 Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction. It’s captivating, emotional, daunting, and you’re connected to main character, Leni, throughout the entirety of the book


“A girl was like a kite; without her mother's strong, steady hold on the string, she might just float away, be lost somewhere among the clouds.”

The readers are introduced to Lenora “Leni” Allbright, a thirteen-year-old who comes home from school and discovers her father, Ernt, a former P.O.W. from the Vietnam war, wants to move the family to wilderness of Alaska because it will “solve all their problems”. Talk about red flags everywhere. Ernt hasn’t been the same since coming home from the war. He’s unable to hold down a job causing hardship on the family. Readers learn about the arguments, loud banging noises, and pacing upset Ernt blaming the government for everything. Leni’s mother Cora would move mountains and earth for Ernt to find happiness again, agreeing the move to Alaska could help Ernt. Little does Cora and Leni know, they will not only face the dangerous wilderness of Alaska, but the dangers brewing from inside their own cabin.

Character Development & Plot Review

“Love and fear. The most destructive forces on earth. Fear had turned her inside out, love had made her stupid.”

Hannah’s characters are authentically developed giving readers an in-depth view into the culture of the Alaskan people in preparing and surviving the harsh cold winters. The world creation of Alaska is painted eloquently for the reader’s vision without engulfing them in detail. I loved how Hannah developed these characters because there’s a great sense of who the characters are. Ernt, the husband and father who doesn’t understand his massive psychological trauma after coming home from the war, is shown throughout the story. Cora loves her daughter Leni, but she hangs on to this hope that Ernt will feel better, accepting anything Ernt wants to do. Then there’s Leni, a young teenage girl trapped in the middle of it all this dysfunctionality and is trying to discover herself along the way.


I will be honest. For the first time ever, I had to pause the book and googled “how does The Great Alone end”. I’ve never done this to a book, but I had to know how everything ended for Leni after all the waves she faced. My emotional heart couldn’t take it anymore. I was going to lose my mind in the middle of cooking dinner if I didn’t know. And no, I’m not ashamed of it.

In conclusion, here are the highlights from The Great Alone I’d like to point out. Hannah cultivates a strong and captivating plot along with well-develop characters for the readers. When reading novels like this I want to be invested in the characters. One book comes to mind called Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan where I was invested in the characters. Luckily, I managed to get through Sullivan’s novel without googling… but the thought wasn’t too far from my mind.

Like I mentioned, if you don’t have time to physically read because of cooking, cleaning, or kids taking over your house, Julia Whelan gives a marvelous narration. My hope is you read this book and make it to the end. If not, I completely understand, no judgement here.


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Book Rating

Excellent/ Highly Recommend
Great/ Recommended
Good Story
Okay / Struggle to Finish
Meh / Did Not Finish
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