The Great Alone

THE GREAT ALONE


“A tour de force” —Kirkus (starred review)

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. After losing yet another job, he impulsively decides to move his family off the grid to Alaska, America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni is coming of age caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship and hopes that a new land will lead to a better future. Her mother, Cora, will do anything for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.

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“A tour de force” —Kirkus (starred review)

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. After losing yet another job, he impulsively decides to move his family off the grid to Alaska, America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni is coming of age caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship and hopes that a new land will lead to a better future. Her mother, Cora, will do anything for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a remote corner of the state, they 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 Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and 18-hour nights descend upon Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, Leni and her mother realize that they are on their own.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska—a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness of both man and nature.

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  • St. Martin's Press
  • Hardcover
  • February 2018
  • 448 Pages
  • 9780312577230

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$28.99

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About Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and other novels. 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 has one son and lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.

Author Website

Praise

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)

Discussion Questions

1. Before reading the book, what was your perception of life in Alaska? What surprised you?

2. What aspects of the lifestyle would you find the most challenging in the wild? How would you handle the isolation, the interdependence among neighbors, the climate? Would you have what it takes to survive?

3. “Up here, there’s no one to tell you what to do or how to do it. We each survive our own way. If you’re tough enough, it’s heaven on earth.” (39) What drives the settlers in The Great Alone to Alaska? They’re not all desperate people in desperate need of a fresh start like the Allbrights, but what could be attractive about this unique way of life for some?

4. Did you find Cora’s actions and “liberated” mind-set to be in conflict? What do you think holds her back?

5. Did you think it was going to be the weather or the violence that killed them first?

6. Discuss the forms of love within this book—crazy and romantic love, neighborly love and compassion, love for the natural world, and a mother’s love. What else would you add?

7. “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.” (118) How else would you describe a mother’s influence? Does Cora serve such a role for Leni—why and why not?

8. Did you see Cora’s explosive act of protection coming? What did it feel like to read that scene? As a parent, do you think you’d be capable of the same act?

9. Did you hold Leni responsible in your mind for any of Matthew’s misfortune? Why or why not? How does Leni show her devotion in the end? Did you anticipate the kind of future that is set in motion for them at the close of the book?

10. Do you think there’s an ultimate place where people belong? How would you know if you got there?

Excerpt

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