The Great Alone

The Great Alone

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
In 1974, when thirteen-year-old Leni Allbright's volatile, unpredictable father Ernt makes an impulsive, desperate decision: he will move the family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the land in a spectacular wilderness. As the vast Alaskan landscape grows smaller and smaller in the darkness, Ernt's fragile mental state deteriorates, and the dangers outside of their remote homestead pale in comparison to the danger withinches On their small piece of land, miles from anyone, Leni and her mother, Cora, learn what all Alaskan homesteaders learn: they are on their own.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, ©2018.
ISBN: 9780312577230
Characteristics: 440 pages :,illustrations ;,25 cm.


From Library Staff

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 Ala... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 10, 2019

Like I mentioned, I saw a bunch of my friends mentioning how much they loved her books, so when I went to the library for the first trip of the year I picked up the two titles that kept repeating on everyone's "must read" lists. As you saw, I really enjoyed The Nightingale was was excited to give this one a read. I'll be honest, I didn't like it as much as the first one I read. Maybe the topic of domestic abuse is too jarring for me (I know, you would think that war and the genocide of millions of Jews would be even more horrific, but maybe in my mind war is an 'out there' type of topic whereas domestic violence seems so real and 'up close'). Don't get me wrong, the story was one I bought hook, line and sinker (although I would say it felt slower to me than the first book), but there weren't as many ugly tears with this one. PS Does it make me crazy if living in Alaska, in the Great Alone, would be an adventure I'd totally be interested in doing?! I would give it an 8 out of 10.

TSCPL_Miranda Jan 07, 2019

So, so good. 13-year-old Leni is used to moving around. She's a reader, an unwilling loner, and tough as nails. Since her dad returned from Vietnam, he's been restless and angry, always seeking a fresh start in a new town. Their move to Alaska could be just what he needs--or it could be a huge, dark mistake. I would have been Sam in Leni's Frodo, if we'd met in high school. I cheered for her all the way, and cried at the final twist.

Jan 07, 2019

Brilliant, hard to put down, heart-wrenching, soul-depth. One of Kristin Hannah's best.

DCLadults Jan 02, 2019

A New & Noteworthy Best of 2018 pick. Another atmospheric novel from Kristin Hannah and this one is complicated. Alaska is as much a character as the members of the Allbright family who move there to homestead and find they are not prepared … at all.

Dec 28, 2018

4.75 STARS!

Near perfection! I knew this would be a tough read since the blurb indicated a troubled and volatile husband/father suffering from the after-affects of being a POW in the Vietnam War. That only touched on this family's saga. This story was mainly told through daughter Lenora's POV from the ages of 13-28 with a few moments peppered in with alternate character POV's. Lenora was a reliable and captivating narrator with an evolving maturation that was well beyond her years due to her circumstances. Seeing the rugged and intimidating 1970's Alaska through her eyes was informative and often shocking. Towards the last 25% of the book, the story felt a little more rushed, but overall it was in turns an exhilarating and heartbreaking story with an utterly satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended reading.

Dec 26, 2018

Recommended by Elaine. Story of former Vietnam POW who moves his wife and daughter to remote area of Alaska.

Dec 24, 2018

Noir adventure story from the voice of the daughter of a violent Vietnam POW. He returns and moves her and her mother to Alaska in 1974 when the girl is 14. She falls in love with the son of her father’s rival and takes us to 1986. The voice is too grown up and too childish, which produces a wonderful plot and good nature writing if only banality and sensationalism didn’t enter too often. Flawed ending saved by strength of character.

Dec 21, 2018

Many readers have praised this book’s spectacular setting, its compelling language, its starkly drawn characters; many will respond to its tale of star-crossed lovers. But at its center is a dominant character who takes the book down a dark, ugly path where the glory of unspoiled wilderness gets left far behind and the light of young love cannot penetrate the gloom.
Ernt Allbright’s problems go far beyond PTSD. His real issue is that he’s a loser who tyrannizes his family to compensate for his inability to deal with reality. He flees from a world he cannot cope with by taking his family into the wilderness while also dragging them into his own twisted make-believe world of imagined threats (social unrest, invasion, nuclear devastation, pandemic, whatever). The only real threat they face is his own incoherent rage. The true nature of Ernt’s illness is revealed by his pathological aversion to any aspect of the civilized world intruding into his space, magnified by his impotent resentment of his neighbor’s prosperity. It’s his own inadequacy that lies at the root of his rage.
What makes the book so gripping is the fact that while Ernt is a fictitious character, he represents a very real element within our world: the angry, irrational, violence-prone “survivalist” who, not content with devastating his own life, brutally abuses his family members and wreaks havoc on neighbors or outsiders who come into contact with him. Having convinced himself that he is under imminent attack, he arms himself with all manner of weaponry and huddles behind barricades while cursing civil society for his self-imposed misery.
We are told that such men are ill, that they are victims of the horrors of way. They are not evil and cannot help themselves. In many cases that is undoubtedly true, but that's not the whole story. Sometimes war doesn't turn good men into monsters; sometimes war releases the monster that already resides there and provides a convenient explanation for his behavior. In the end, it matters not which is the case; the damage that such men do is the same. It's usually the wife, the captive children who pay the price.
I accept the view that this is a powerful book, skillfully written. In a way, it's a courageous book. But it is a hard book to read and its message is very discouraging.
I think I'll now go and re-read The Grapes of Wrath to brighten up my week ...

Dec 20, 2018

THE GREAT ALONE is mostly set in the turbulent post-Vietnam 1970s. The novel follows a family in crisis as they live out their personal dramas amid the stark beauty of the Alaskan wilderness. Survival, both physical and emotional, is a central theme. It’s also a poignant Romeo and Juliet-like coming-of-age story as well as an effective commentary on the bonds between mothers and their children. Well told by author Kristin Hannah, the book's characters stayed with me long after I had finished the final page.

Dec 17, 2018

A book hasn't moved me the way this one did in a long, long time. Excellent.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Dec 20, 2018

“Books are the mile markers of my life. Some people have family photos or home movies to record their past. I’ve got books. Characters. For as long as I can remember, books have been my safe place.” - p. 240

Dec 20, 2018

“Love and fear. The most destructive forces on earth. Fear had turned her inside out, love had made her stupid.” - p. 284

Dec 20, 2018

“Alaska doesn’t attract many; most are too tame to handle life up here. But when she gets her hooks in you, she digs deep and holds on, and you become heres. Wild. A lover of cruel beauty and splendid isolation. And God help you, you can’t live anywhere else.” - p. 347

ArapahoeMaryA Mar 13, 2018

You know what they say about finding a man in Alaska—the odds are good, but the goods are odd.


Add a Summary
Sep 11, 2018

This story of life in Alaska evolves around a family (the Allbrights') Ernst, his wife, and Leni, their Daughter who move up to Alaska after Ernst is left the property by a friend he knew during the Vietnam War. Ernst suffered from PTSD and creates havoc and fear whereever he goes. I was unable to put the book down; an excellent read and well recommended.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top