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  1. hannah's happiness project
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  3. The Great Alone
  4. Winter Garden - Behind the Book | Kristin Hannah

Just so you know where my thoughts are coming from, I am the wife of a twenty-seven year military veteran, and I initially connected with this story and my heart ached for the family whose lives were changed forever due to the traumas of war, but then I became perplexed and then disturbed with where the storyline was heading, especially regarding the actions of the father, named Ernt.

Yes, he drinks way too much. He acted out in horrible ways and then apologized profusely, time and time again. Sorry if this sounds more like a rant than a review : There are thousands of star ratings for this book, and I definitely understand why. The writing is flawless, the descriptions breathtaking, and as one would expect from Kristin Hannah and as I already stated, she can weave a story like few others. I am certainly in the minority only giving 2 stars. Your experience with this book will most likely be totally different from mine, so I urge you to read the 5 star reviews.

I will definitely continue to read Ms. Oct 27, Angela M rated it it was amazing Shelves: netgalley-reviews. Service It's to the wilderness of Alaska, this "Great Alone", a most fitting description, that Leni Allbright and her parents go, seeking yet another place that her mother hoped would be the place that made her dad happy.

Kristin Hannah with vivid descriptions takes the reader here and while I've never been to Alaska, I certainly felt as though I was. It isn't until they move to Alaska that 13 year old Leni , realizes just how bad things are and the imminent danger in their lives. I couldn't help but love Leni. She's wise for her age recognizing what might set off her father's rage. As she grows and her character develops, into a strong , amazing woman in spite of all the tragedy and heartache, I loved her even more. My favorite passage is from Leni's college application several years later: "Books are the mile markers of my life.

Some people have family photos or home movies to record their past. I've got books. For as long as I can remember, books have been my safe place. I read about places I can barely imagine and lose myself to journeys to foreign lands to save girls who didn't know they were really princesses.

Only recently have I learned why I needed those faraway worlds. It is the friendships that Leni and Cora make with a fabulous cast of characters that help them survive it all. Large Marge was my favorite but I also loved Matthew who was the only friend Leni could remember having in her life. This is more than a coming of age story. I don't often cry when reading a book, but this was one of the times. It's gripping, gritty, heartbreaking and hopeful and illustrates the versatile storytelling of Kristin Hannah.

This book prompted me to search for him online. It appears that he stayed in the Army and then after retirement went on to the private sector. I hope he has had a peaceful, happy life. I received an advanced copy of this book from St. Martin's Press through NetGalley. View all 84 comments.


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Nov 18, Paromjit rated it it was amazing Shelves: adventure , family-drama , historical-fiction , netgalley. This is my first read by Kristin Hannah and I adored it. He is now a changed man, suffering sleepless nights, flashbacks, nightmares and volatile in his behaviour. PTSD was an undiagnosed condition at the time but it ravaged Ernt's life and that of his wife, Cora, and his 13 year old daughter, Leni.

The Allbright family used to have good times, but now Leni hears the fights and c This is my first read by Kristin Hannah and I adored it. The Allbright family used to have good times, but now Leni hears the fights and conflict between her parents. Ernt struggles to hold down a job and their moves makes Leni long for a sense of stability. When Ernt inherits a cabin and land in Alaska from a dead soldier, he pleads with Cora that this will be the making of him and them, they could live off the land and be free of the pressures that they have been living under.

Driven by this hope, they sell up and buy a rickety old VW van and set off for their adventure in The Great Alone, having little idea as to what awaits them and just how ill prepared they are for it. Alaska takes no prisoners, it has a majestic, harsh, awe inspiring beauty but its wilderness and wildlife is a cruel and unforgiving testing ground for those who make their home there. The Allbrights arrive in remote Kaneq, Alaska, shocked by the state of the tiny dilapidated cabin and taken aback by all that needs doing and facing a desperately steep learning curve.

Without the small community rallying together to help the family they would not survive the bitter, brutal Alaskan winter and the hardships that are to follow. They stock up on supplies, working the land in preparation. However, Ernt's condition worsens, exacerbated by alcohol. He takes out his rage and temper on Cora and the tiny home becomes a place of darkness and domestic violence. Leni learns to read the signs and triggers that foretell when Ernt is going to lose it and you cannot help but feel for her and Cora. Mother and daughter have a close relationship giving them the emotional strength to endure the unbearable.

Leni finds solace in books, something I completely understand and relate to. She forms her first friendship with Matthew and begins to grow roots in the community. The community prove to be an invaluable support to Cora and Leni such as the inimitable and capable Marge and Tom Walker. The angry Earl rails against the injustices of life, politics and institutions, grieving over the loss of his son.

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As the years go by, Leni is changed and shaped by the tragedies and hearbreak she faces, Kristin Hannah has written a beautifully detailed and emotionally affecting novel that is both compelling and gripping. She captures the twin threats posed the Alaskan environment and the home ripped asunder by the dangerous Ernt. Hannah's greatest achievement though is the characters she creates and the in depth development that takes place. This is Leni's story, the burdens she grows up with, her emotional bond with her mother, and her search for identity and roots.

Its a a tale of love and hope despite the battering that life can give. It is remarkably instructive on the cost, consequences and damage of war on families and the suffering that ensues. A brilliant read that I will not forget and recommend highly. View all 55 comments. What a story! I mentioned this in one of my status updates and I think it is the best way to describe this book: every new scene in this book is out of the frying pan and into the fire!

We have both read and enjoyed The Nightingale, which is probably what Hannah is best known for even though she has quite an extensive resume of novels. This book is quite unlike The What a story! This book is quite unlike The Nightingale, and, dare I say, even better. At first I thought it started slow and I was having trouble connecting to it. From then on out it is a rollercoaster suspense-thriller-tear jerker that warms the heart and will terrify you with the possibilities of the human condition.

I can easily recommend this to almost anyone. It is just great storytelling of a unique and captivating tale. View all 56 comments. View all 16 comments. Well that's this book. As I slowly agonized trough this audiobook I found myself so incredibly frustrated with the characters. Domestic violence, PTSD, coming of age story and overall a pretty solid book but You know when some books are heart-wrenching and others you feel like your emotions are being played with just for the sake of making it sad? This felt like the second one a bit too much for my taste.

The ending 3. The ending was also not very realistic. View all 13 comments. Jan 24, Elyse Walters rated it really liked it. Kristin Hannah fans will be more than satisfied!!! I found the story a little predictable- and not all characters as layered as I would have liked, yet the sincerity in which Kristin wrote this novel is admirable and beautiful The writing flows with emotional intimacy. Leni, an only chil Kristin Hannah fans will be more than satisfied!!! Leni, an only child, had gone to four new schools in five years during her early pre- and teen years.

Vietnam changed her Ernt. He returned home moody, quick to anger, and distant. Cora was engaged in a continual quest to find herself — taking spiritual workshops and human potential courses. Leni was only and never had time to act out as a normal teenager. The conditions of their family were just always much too fragile Leni felt very attached and protective of her mom - bringing them close - questionable if their closeness was always the best thing - or if boundaries between parent and child got crossed— however they experienced a type of trauma together neither should have had to experience.

We are witness to tragedies Abusive family secrets weigh heavily - innocence is robbed - leaving an urgency for survival. The Vietnam War divided our country Leni is wise beyond her years: she had to be! Alaska is where she came to feel most at home. The book cover is gorgeous- Many thanks to Kristin Hannah too. View all 34 comments. Book coincidences.

I always read multiple books at the same time, always have. So, I was reading History of Wolves, and because I had paper Arcs of both books and wanted to pass them on, I also started this one. Both deal with the trauma of war, but this one was set in Alaska, and I love books set in cold climates.

It is the seventies and Ernt, who came back much changed from Vietnam, can't seem to settle. Moving his small family from place to place, until he is left a small cabin in Alaska, fro Book coincidences. Moving his small family from place to place, until he is left a small cabin in Alaska, from a buddy who served with him.

So off they go, very unprepared for the hardness and danger that Alaska presents. Cora, who loves and will do anything for her husband and their young teenage daughter, Leni. Some fabulous characters, fantastic setting, and some extremely challenging issues.

I never felt sorry for Ernt, despite what he went through, he was not a very nice man. That is an understatement, spousal abuse to me is inexcusable, the effects on a young Leni, just terrible. There are many people they meet in Alaska that were loving and helpful, Leni starts a relationship and then tragedy strikes again. This story really pulled me in, couldn't look away, and yes the ending may be a bit treacly but let's just say some of these characters deserved some happiness.

Enjoyed watching and learning as they learned to survive in Alaska, made friends and found stolen moments of joy. Yes, this made me teary up more than once, and I have to say everyone could use a guardian angel like Large Marge. ARC from publisher. View all 61 comments. Nov 20, Carol rated it it was amazing Shelves: published , historical-fiction , netgalley , read , favorites. OH BOY. View all 75 comments. Mar 08, Furrawn rated it did not like it Shelves: books-i-truly-hate.

Warning, I usually write quirky lyrical bits about a book. This is going to be more of a rant. There might be accidental spoilers so steer clear if that will bother you. I truly hated this formulaic flat stereotypes-everyone book. Made everyone I know read it. I thought The Nightingale hung the moon and stars. I was excited beyond words for the release of The Great Alone. The Good: The first few pages were great Further into Warning, I usually write quirky lyrical bits about a book.

Further into the book, the descriptions of the Alaskan landscape will move you and make you feel like you are standing there with the chill and snow kissing your face. The actual writing and turns of phrase are still beautiful in most places. The Bad: The book put a bad taste in my mouth almost immediately. Reading this book makes you think that ALL traumatized war vets become monsters. Ernst is a total worthless human being. Whatever he was before the Vietnam War, he comes back as a monster. Why was Ernst not seeing a therapist?

Instead, he chose to be a raging alcoholic and to beat his wife and later his child. This is a choice. The battered wife. Most of them would have left an abusive husband over the rabbit heart. Most battered women will take abuse but will find the strength to leave the husband if he hurts their kids.

Every single character, even Leni, is the least of the best possibilities. You know Job? I get that Alaska means you can be yourself. Hannah manages to make it sound like a lot of them are crazy. I doubt they are any crazier than the crazies in the lower forty-eight. She also writes about the flip side- the community spirit. Hannah piles on catastrophe after catastrophe. How could she write The Nightingale and then this?

I just am gobsmacked. I read this overwrought mess of a book to the end. View all 73 comments. Sarah I gave it 2 stars because I liked the physical descriptions of Alaska. But the storyline was completely ridiculous, unbelievable, and shallow. Jun 23, AM. Assumed it was my fault. Jun 24, AM. A full moon cast blue-white light on everything. Stars filled the sky with pinpricks and elliptical smears of light. Up here, at night, the sky was impossibly huge and never quite turned black, but stayed a deep velvet blue.

The world beneath it dwindled down to nothing: a dollop of firelight, a squiggly white reflection of moonlight on the tarnished waves. Ernt, Cora and their teenage daughter, Leni. Ernt, a veteran of the war, suffers from PTSD turning what should be a family haven into a battlefield of turmoil, threats and ferocious insecurity. Dissatisfied with his country, surrendering to his absurd notions of how a country should be governed, he drags his family into the Last Frontier.

A place of unimaginable beauty and danger. I am sorry to say that this novel left me cold and disappointed… There is no doubt that the premise of the story is interesting and realistic. The descriptions of the Alaskan nature are breathtakingly beautiful and there are quite a few elements that made me feel invested in the story of the Allbright family initially.

This historical era is one that always attracts my interest and Hannah did a good job transferring it into the heart of the narration. All the familiar 70s trademarks have been put into good use. The search for a spiritual destination, the notion of Unitarianism, the rallies for peace. Stilted and exaggerating like a cheesy Hollywood film. This is my main complaint with this novel. How many chapters do you need to say the same things again and again?

The only thing it made me feel was irritation and a deep desire to read the end and abandon the book altogether. Not my ideal picture of an interesting book. On a side note, the references to The Thorn Birds and the friendship between Frodo and Sam were melodramatic, cheesy and irritating. In my opinion. With the exception of Leni whose romantic story was laughably bad , the rest of the characters left me utterly indifferent. I quickly lost patience with Cora. Despite the fact that she takes some action, her character is no figure to look up to. At least, not according to my standards.

Ernt is a loony. Plain and simple. No justification, no pretext. The excuse of PTSD is quickly wasted. Horrible character, written as a caricature to force drama. For the beauty of the Alaskan territory and the character of Leni and for the fact that I was not the suitable reader for this book.

View all 28 comments. Like a curved, upturned palm, Alaska beckons with her beauty, her majesty, and her prolific grandeur. The awe-inspiring allure gestures first until the ruggedness of her backbone sets in. The Allbright family lives on the edge of a nomad's existence. Seattle, once filled with promise, no longer does. It's and these displaced individuals are the walking wounded.

Ernt bears the mental and physical scars of being a prisoner of war held in Vietnam. The nightmares are no longer wrapped in the dar Like a curved, upturned palm, Alaska beckons with her beauty, her majesty, and her prolific grandeur. The nightmares are no longer wrapped in the darkness. They seep into the day and explode without warning. Cora, his wife, flits back and forth with her feeble attempts to sidestep his abusive behavior. And caught in the throws of this disfunction is thirteen year old Leni.

Her silence lays a mantle over the brokenness. Ernt receives a letter from the father of his best friend who was killed in Vietnam. It's his for the taking. Ernt whoops with joy and begins to sell everything they have for a beat-up VW bus in order to make the journey. Cora sees the face of the love she long remembered from before the war. Perhaps this is the new beginning that they are so desperate for. And Leni just yearns for a place of permanence for once in her young life. With hardly a plan or adequate preparation, the Allbrights find themselves in the jaw-dropping majesty of the Alaskan wilderness.

With the help of Mad Earl's family and the resourceful Marge Birdsall, also known as Large Marge, the Allbrights cut into the land and start to dig in. Like the famous line from Game of Thrones: "Winter is coming. But our story brushes against more than Nature Ernt begins to resent his new neighbors as the darkness within him takes hold once again.

hannah's happiness project

And once again, Cora invents excuses for Ernt's behavior until she begins to believe it all herself. She and Leni hardly breathe in the confines of that tiny cabin. Kristin Hannah creates a storyline that lays bare the tragedies of war, broken families, unfulfilled dreams, and the explosive side of a dormant wound. Her characterizations are remarkable as life unravels from to We will experience the dramatic changes that take place within Leni as she shields herself from the rages that exist within as well as those from the treacherous land itself. Kristin Hannah writes from a source of profound respect for the individuals who ramble down the uneven terrain of life.

Her words will invoke a gamut of feelings within you as you leave your own footprints behind. A remarkable read, indeed, and so worthy of your attention. My thanks to St. Martin's Press and to Kristin Hannah for the opportunity. View all 37 comments. Feb 27, Jen rated it it was amazing Shelves: 5-star-favourites. I think Kristen Hannah is like a fine wine. With each new novel, she gets better and better.

Thirteen year old Leni and her parents move to the Alaskan wilderness as a possible solution to her dad's illness. He suffers from PTSD having returned from Vietnam broken, with an extreme vision and little survival skills. Once the harshness of winter sets in, the human spirit is tested in a family whose relationship is already in a delicate balance; the lack of daylight brings with it the challenges of I think Kristen Hannah is like a fine wine.

Once the harshness of winter sets in, the human spirit is tested in a family whose relationship is already in a delicate balance; the lack of daylight brings with it the challenges of isolation and survival. The darkness envelopes them and tempers are shorter. Abuse becomes the weapon of choice for her father to battle the inner demons that visit him almost daily. The sacrifices both her and her mother make as a means of survival come at a high cost. Even love is a threat in this environment.

The wildness of Alaska will either break them or strengthen who they are and who they will come to be. This is Hannah's crown jewel. View all 88 comments. Feb 17, Susanne Strong rated it really liked it Shelves: traveling-sister-read , netgalley. Alaska, This is the story of the trials and tribulations of the Allbright family.

Life has not been easy for Ernt, Cora or their daughter Leni. Ernt is a POW, home from Vietnam. He is now prone to fits of anger and extreme violence. Ernt considers alcohol to be his savior — yet for his wife and daughter, it is the devil. In an incredible turn of events, a home is bequeat 4 Stars.

In an incredible turn of events, a home is bequeathed to Ernt in Kaneq, Alaska and he feels that it is has last chance. Wanting to make him happy and keep him calm, Cora and Leni agree. The move is one for which they are wholly unprepared. Winters are fierce, harsh and absolutely terrifying. There are only 6 hours of sunlight a day, and the conditions are dire. The atmosphere and the wilderness however, give something to Leni Allbright that she has never had before, peace and solitude.

If only it was enough. Cora is a woman who fell very hard for a man who treats her the way that no woman should ever be treated. Her family is trapped in a vicious cycle, one whose demons it seems impossible to out run, even after having reached the ends of the earth. The characters are captivating and rich. This was Traveling Sister Read. The discussion for this book was very lively and full of emotion. I was glad to have my sisters close while I read it! Thank you to NetGalley, St. View all 65 comments. Apr 20, Julie rated it really liked it Shelves: st-martin-s-press , historical-fiction , paperback , This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.

To view it, click here. Alaska- beautiful, harsh, dangerous, addictive- After Ernst comes home from Vietnam, he flounders, suffering from what we would now term, PTSD. His wife, Cora, sees a much different man in front of her than the one she married. But, she is determined to help him, and so when he inherits a home in Alaska, she and their thirteen -year old daughter, Leni, follow him into unchartered territory.

As they begin their journey they are filled with renewed hope and optimism, but simmering underneath that forced enthusiasm, is a great deal of nervousness and trepidation. Yet for Cora and Leni, the danger that lurks around every corner, is within the confines of their own four walls. As a voracious reader, I am always surprised by how many amazing books and authors I have yet to sample. I have three or four Kristin Hannah novels languishing on my bookshelves that I am always meaning to read.

Anyway, long story short, I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, which, of course, meant I had to read it and then review it, which is how this book, despite countless others to choose from, became my first Kristin Hannah novel. I started this book a very long time ago, with the best of intentions of reading it prior to the release date, but became very frustrated with it almost immediately.

As the awesome reviews began to trickle in, I started to get a little nervous. So, I put it aside for a while. I ended up reading this novel in fits and starts until I got tired of seeing it on my bedside table, and decided to plow through until the end, whether I wanted to or not. The taut atmosphere, being completely isolated, living in a cabin out in the middle of such extremes, with no one to call for help, never knowing when the next explosive confrontation would come, made this a hard book for me to consume in large quantities.

It was just too nerve wracking and intense. I started to dread turning the next page. If not for herself, for her daughter!! I know, I know, Cora exhibited the classic, textbook cycle of abuse. But, Leni deserved better than that. Therefore, I found myself running that loop in my head, chiding myself for judging, but unapologetic for my feelings, and ended up getting myself all upset and stressed out, as a result. But, moving on- This is not the only problem I had with the book. Please everyone in the US. Look up Learn the history of it. It was around, but not common, even in big cities.

We take it for granted now, so this might not have registered, but in the early seventies, calling was not a thing. I also noticed a few other gaffes, like Cora smoking on her last cigarette, only to miraculously have a fresh supply the very next morning. His was classic abusive behavior, and I suspect it might have developed no matter what.

Oh, he was sick, all right, but not only from the effects of the war. This was all swirling around in my head as I embarked on the second half of the book. It was dark, intense, edgy, suspenseful, but not in a way I normally like. In fact, it was downright depressing. I ended up liking the way everything turned out, even though it was sad on so many levels.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was experiencing many of the same emotions I normally feel after reading a romance novel. They made her feel as if women could be in control of their own destinies. Even in a cruel, dark world that tested women to the very limits of their endurance, the heroines of these novels could prevail and find true love. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. No one wanted to hint around that there is romance in this story, but Leni was tested to the brink of her endurance, yet she prevailed and found true love and despite everything she gets her happily ever after!!

And that, my fine friends why I read love stories. Leni and Matthew! Belonging, finding your tribe,family, separations, hardships, endurance, survival against all odds, true love, and happy ever afters!! All the elements of a great love story! And, of course, no one deserved that HEA more than Leni!! Sure, of course, it's not JUST a love story, as I've made clear at the beginning of this review, but at the end of the day, after all is said and done, that's the part of story that endures, the part that burrowed into my heart.

I do understand the homage to Alaska, all of which was described beautifully. Still, I am SO glad, despite the initial emotional drain, that I eventually finished it. It turned out to be a surprisingly rewarding read. These characters will pass through my thoughts on many occasions in the future and I will wonder how they are doing from time to time, but I know they are going to make it just fine!!

View all 44 comments. When I was about 5 percent into the book I was loving it, but as I got just a little bit further I thought to myself, "if I wasn't committed to reading this for NetGalley, I'd move onto something else. I've held the lifelong belief that while reading books I've trav 4. I've held the lifelong belief that while reading books I've travelled all over the world in my mind. For this reason, I do not feel at all like I've missed out due to my anemic personal travel log.

One of the gifts I received from this book was the very unique experience of living "off the grid" in Alaska. It's the early s, and 13 year old Lenora Leni Allbright is living with the stress and uncertainty of her parents' volatile marriage. His sleep is often disturbed by flashbacks and he's unable to control his jealously where his attractive and dedicated wife Cora is concerned. Leni has too often seen her father's hair trigger violence towards her mother, as well as Cora's willingness to forgive without consequences.

Cora and Ernt fell in love quite young, culminating in unexpected pregnancy and a rushed, simple wedding. Cora came from wealth and her parents disapproved of the marriage, but her love for Ernt was steadfast. Even though Ernt didn't come home from the war the same man, Cora stoically dealt with the rollercoaster moods from her husband.

As Leni witnesses her parents riding the wild emotions of their marriage, their sexual passions still intact Her father sometimes hits her mother. Then a life-changing decision is suddenly made: Ernt receives a letter from the father of a fellow POW- one who didn't make it home alive. His comrade willed him some land and a home in Alaska. Ernt views this opportunity as a lifeline; a place where he can live in solitude off the land.

A place to start anew. With hope and some trepidation, Cora agrees to leave their Seattle home along with Leni and Ernt for an unknown future in Alaska. When the Allbrights arrive in this remote strip of Alaska, it's quite unsettling just how "off the grid" this new life will be. There is no running water or electricity, and their modest cabin is littered with dead bugs. There is no bathroom; those needs are met by an outhouse. The only means of communication with their fellow cove inhabitants is by ham radio.

They are also warned by the locals how easily one can die during the cruel Alaska winters. The Allbrights must learn how to hunt and fish, can foods, tend to livestock and cut firewood During the heart of an Alaskan winter, there are barely 8 hours of light in the day. Talk about cabin fever! This was where I hit critical mass in the book and felt so claustrophobic and disturbed that I wished to put aside the book.

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Ernt at first thrives with the simplicity and physicality of working the land, but does not do well when the unrelenting winter hits. I won't get into the nuts and bolts of the story. Suffice it to say, and I quote Leni, her parents were in a "sick, twisted love that bound her parents together. This is a story that is rich, atmospheric and fraught with great emotions. I came away from this book with utter respect and appreciation for the people who homestead in Alaska, with all its beauty and challenges.

For all the hard physical work to survive there, they seem to love it and would have it no other way. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the gift of a great read. View all 36 comments. Jan 14, Karen rated it it was amazing. Life there is so hard and very bleak. This story is fast paced, and riveting. The characters so beautifully brought to life. Such an atmospheric read, I am so happy that I was able to read this at a time when we have our own Arctic Blast going through her 5 Stars for The Great Alone Such an atmospheric read, I am so happy that I was able to read this at a time when we have our own Arctic Blast going through here in Michigan.

Highly Recommended!! Thank you to NetGalley and St. View all 43 comments. I was totally captivated with what I was reading and it was extremely hard for me to put down. The way that The Great Alone made me feel is exactly how I like to feel when reading a book! I fell in love with the character of Leni and genuinely cared for her and her wellbeing throughout this whole novel. The storyline was so engaging, the characters are all so well-developed, the setting was absolutely fantastic and the ending was bittersweet but satisfying.

Highly recommend! Published: February 6th, Thank you so much to my fellow Traveling Sisters for another wonderful reading experience! Thank you so much to NetGalley, St. Where I live I am surrounded by Coulees! View all 64 comments. She tried to pretend he wasn't drinkin' again But daddy'd left the proof on her cheek. Some folks whi 4. Some folks whispered and some folks talked But everybody looked the other way And when time ran out there was no one about On Independence Day.

Water found its way into the smallest cracks and undermined the sturdiest foundations. Chunks of land that had been steady for generations fell like slag heaps on the roads below, taking houses and cars and swimming pools down with them. Trees fell over, crashed into power lines; electricity was lost.

Rivers flooded their banks, washed across yards, ruined homes. People who loved each other snapped and fights erupted as the water rose and the rain continued. She was the new girl at school, just a face in the crowd; a girl with long hair, parted in the middle, who had no friends and walked to school alone. His body bears the physical scars, the physical aches and pains, but his mind is still tortured. Needed it. And Mama needed him to be happy. They would go to Alaska in search of this new dream.

Leni would do as she was asked and do it with a good attitude. She would be the new girl in school again. Because that was what love was. An adventure. For all of them, a new beginning. As they take in their first look at the town of Kaneq, with dilapidated buildings with peeling paint, built perched above the mud with a boardwalk that connects the buildings.

From the original Natives who settled the area, to the fur traders from Russia, and then came those men looking for gold. The home they live in is even more remote. There was no police station, no telephone service, no one to hear you scream. For the first time, she really understood what her dad had been saying. When she starts school there, it is a small enough school that there is only one other person close to her age, a boy. I loved how this touched on the resilience of the human spirit, despite how broken and bruised we may feel or be. Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book!

View all 60 comments. Robert Service This book got me to thinking about why I read and at times it would seem I have as many answers as there are moments to consider them.. For me I guess it all began when I was a child. I loved how, like in The Nightingale , Hannah shows the importance and the strength of the relationships between female characters. I loved the Alaskan setting and the multiple tales of survival against the odds. And I loved how everything had something of a fairy tale quality to it, dark places and broken dreams included. Now Leni was old enough to know that like all fairy tales, theirs was filled with thickets and dark places and broken dreams, and runaway girls.

Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube View all 62 comments. I enjoyed every page, but felt like the last chapters were too rushed as well. Feb 26, PM. Lacy I agree with you! Her characters are s I agree with you! Her characters are so real. The ending gets over the top sentimental. I felt a similar way about nightingail, but thought it was done less clumsily. However as I was writing my review I realized that because she makes you feel the darkness so intensely, I subconciously need the warm and fuzzies at the end so I'm less broken.

Jan 23, abby rated it liked it Shelves: historical-fiction. I know this isn't likely to be a popular opinion. Hannah is an incredibly popular writer whose books sell into the millions. This might be a case of "it's not you, it's me. People who liked Hannah's earlier work, will probably love this book.

Hannah M: War

But if you've not been a fan in the past, don't expect much to change with this Alaskan tale. The book starts when Leni Allbright is thirteen, awkward, and unable to fit in anywhere. It doesn't help that her parents are constantly moving her around the country. Her father, Ernt, is chasing that next big opportunity that will make him happy for good. Her mother, Cora, is hoping the next town will transform Ernt into the man he was before Vietnam. The Allbright family wind up in Alaska, in a cabin without pluming and electricity and far from any real civilization.

The Great Alone

When they arrive at the start of summer, Ernt is able to relax in the natural setting, and Cora and Leni think he might really return to how he was before the war. But as the days grow colder and the sun disappears from the sky, Ernt's demons come back with a vengeance. Cora reminded me a lot of Vianne from The Nightingale , only with an abusive husband this time. Like her predecessor, she acts like a sad doormat the majority of the book until the moment she snaps out of character view spoiler [and murders someone hide spoiler ].

Ernt is the usual abusive husband archetype-- drinking and beating and obsessing. One character I loved was Large Marge, who doesn't take any prisoners and doesn't suffer any fools. But I almost felt like making Marge an African-American in Alaska and obese gave her the "excuse" not to be yet another shrinking violet. I was rooting for Leni, I enjoyed her friendship with Matthew, the understanding boy next homestead over, and I was waiting for Ernt's dangerous end-of-the-world prepping to come to a head.

This book really brings Alaska and off-grid living to life. But then it all fell apart. I feel like Hannah wanted to make her readers sad, so they would feel things, and isn't it a good book if it makes you cry? So lets kill off some characters. Heck, let's kill off all the characters! Teenage pregnancy? Sure, that's juicy stuff and very romantic. Wait, I killed off too many characters? There's a fix for that. Perfect bittersweet ending! The last hundred pages made me hate how much I enjoyed the first three hundred pages. I don't think I'll be picking up another Kristin Hannah book any time soon.

View all 91 comments. Jennifer I feel the same way exactly. The book started off so amazingly good, then it made me angry. Jun 27, PM. Feb 14, KAS rated it it was ok. One thing is for sure, Kristin Hannah, hands down, is a talented author who can weave a tale. I have read many of her previous novels and always found them to be beautiful and thought provoking. This one, however, rubbed me the wrong way.

Forewarning: This storyline deals with a lot of heavy issues, the most serious and horrific, physical abuse. I am trying my best to keep spoilers out of this review. Just so you know where my thoughts are coming from, I am the wife of a twenty-seven year military One thing is for sure, Kristin Hannah, hands down, is a talented author who can weave a tale. Just so you know where my thoughts are coming from, I am the wife of a twenty-seven year military veteran, and I initially connected with this story and my heart ached for the family whose lives were changed forever due to the traumas of war, but then I became perplexed and then disturbed with where the storyline was heading, especially regarding the actions of the father, named Ernt.

Yes, he drinks way too much. He acted out in horrible ways and then apologized profusely, time and time again. Sorry if this sounds more like a rant than a review : There are thousands of star ratings for this book, and I definitely understand why. The writing is flawless, the descriptions breathtaking, and as one would expect from Kristin Hannah and as I already stated, she can weave a story like few others. I am certainly in the minority only giving 2 stars. Your experience with this book will most likely be totally different from mine, so I urge you to read the 5 star reviews.

I will definitely continue to read Ms. Oct 27, Angela M rated it it was amazing Shelves: netgalley-reviews. Service It's to the wilderness of Alaska, this "Great Alone", a most fitting description, that Leni Allbright and her parents go, seeking yet another place that her mother hoped would be the place that made her dad happy. Kristin Hannah with vivid descriptions takes the reader here and while I've never been to Alaska, I certainly felt as though I was.

It isn't until they move to Alaska that 13 year old Leni , realizes just how bad things are and the imminent danger in their lives. I couldn't help but love Leni. She's wise for her age recognizing what might set off her father's rage. As she grows and her character develops, into a strong , amazing woman in spite of all the tragedy and heartache, I loved her even more. My favorite passage is from Leni's college application several years later: "Books are the mile markers of my life.

Some people have family photos or home movies to record their past. I've got books. For as long as I can remember, books have been my safe place. I read about places I can barely imagine and lose myself to journeys to foreign lands to save girls who didn't know they were really princesses. Only recently have I learned why I needed those faraway worlds. It is the friendships that Leni and Cora make with a fabulous cast of characters that help them survive it all. Large Marge was my favorite but I also loved Matthew who was the only friend Leni could remember having in her life. This is more than a coming of age story.

I don't often cry when reading a book, but this was one of the times. It's gripping, gritty, heartbreaking and hopeful and illustrates the versatile storytelling of Kristin Hannah. This book prompted me to search for him online. It appears that he stayed in the Army and then after retirement went on to the private sector. I hope he has had a peaceful, happy life.

I received an advanced copy of this book from St. Martin's Press through NetGalley. View all 84 comments. Nov 18, Paromjit rated it it was amazing Shelves: adventure , family-drama , historical-fiction , netgalley. This is my first read by Kristin Hannah and I adored it. He is now a changed man, suffering sleepless nights, flashbacks, nightmares and volatile in his behaviour. PTSD was an undiagnosed condition at the time but it ravaged Ernt's life and that of his wife, Cora, and his 13 year old daughter, Leni.

The Allbright family used to have good times, but now Leni hears the fights and c This is my first read by Kristin Hannah and I adored it. The Allbright family used to have good times, but now Leni hears the fights and conflict between her parents. Ernt struggles to hold down a job and their moves makes Leni long for a sense of stability. When Ernt inherits a cabin and land in Alaska from a dead soldier, he pleads with Cora that this will be the making of him and them, they could live off the land and be free of the pressures that they have been living under.

Driven by this hope, they sell up and buy a rickety old VW van and set off for their adventure in The Great Alone, having little idea as to what awaits them and just how ill prepared they are for it. Alaska takes no prisoners, it has a majestic, harsh, awe inspiring beauty but its wilderness and wildlife is a cruel and unforgiving testing ground for those who make their home there.

The Allbrights arrive in remote Kaneq, Alaska, shocked by the state of the tiny dilapidated cabin and taken aback by all that needs doing and facing a desperately steep learning curve. Without the small community rallying together to help the family they would not survive the bitter, brutal Alaskan winter and the hardships that are to follow.

They stock up on supplies, working the land in preparation. However, Ernt's condition worsens, exacerbated by alcohol. He takes out his rage and temper on Cora and the tiny home becomes a place of darkness and domestic violence. Leni learns to read the signs and triggers that foretell when Ernt is going to lose it and you cannot help but feel for her and Cora. Mother and daughter have a close relationship giving them the emotional strength to endure the unbearable. Leni finds solace in books, something I completely understand and relate to.

She forms her first friendship with Matthew and begins to grow roots in the community. The community prove to be an invaluable support to Cora and Leni such as the inimitable and capable Marge and Tom Walker. The angry Earl rails against the injustices of life, politics and institutions, grieving over the loss of his son. As the years go by, Leni is changed and shaped by the tragedies and hearbreak she faces, Kristin Hannah has written a beautifully detailed and emotionally affecting novel that is both compelling and gripping.

She captures the twin threats posed the Alaskan environment and the home ripped asunder by the dangerous Ernt. Hannah's greatest achievement though is the characters she creates and the in depth development that takes place. This is Leni's story, the burdens she grows up with, her emotional bond with her mother, and her search for identity and roots.

Its a a tale of love and hope despite the battering that life can give. It is remarkably instructive on the cost, consequences and damage of war on families and the suffering that ensues. A brilliant read that I will not forget and recommend highly. View all 55 comments. What a story! I mentioned this in one of my status updates and I think it is the best way to describe this book: every new scene in this book is out of the frying pan and into the fire!

We have both read and enjoyed The Nightingale, which is probably what Hannah is best known for even though she has quite an extensive resume of novels. This book is quite unlike The What a story! This book is quite unlike The Nightingale, and, dare I say, even better. At first I thought it started slow and I was having trouble connecting to it. From then on out it is a rollercoaster suspense-thriller-tear jerker that warms the heart and will terrify you with the possibilities of the human condition.

I can easily recommend this to almost anyone. It is just great storytelling of a unique and captivating tale. View all 56 comments. View all 16 comments. Well that's this book. As I slowly agonized trough this audiobook I found myself so incredibly frustrated with the characters. Domestic violence, PTSD, coming of age story and overall a pretty solid book but You know when some books are heart-wrenching and others you feel like your emotions are being played with just for the sake of making it sad?

This felt like the second one a bit too much for my taste. The ending 3. The ending was also not very realistic. View all 13 comments. Jan 24, Elyse Walters rated it really liked it. Kristin Hannah fans will be more than satisfied!!! I found the story a little predictable- and not all characters as layered as I would have liked, yet the sincerity in which Kristin wrote this novel is admirable and beautiful The writing flows with emotional intimacy. Leni, an only chil Kristin Hannah fans will be more than satisfied!!!

Leni, an only child, had gone to four new schools in five years during her early pre- and teen years. Vietnam changed her Ernt. He returned home moody, quick to anger, and distant. Cora was engaged in a continual quest to find herself — taking spiritual workshops and human potential courses.

Leni was only and never had time to act out as a normal teenager. The conditions of their family were just always much too fragile Leni felt very attached and protective of her mom - bringing them close - questionable if their closeness was always the best thing - or if boundaries between parent and child got crossed— however they experienced a type of trauma together neither should have had to experience.

We are witness to tragedies Abusive family secrets weigh heavily - innocence is robbed - leaving an urgency for survival. The Vietnam War divided our country Leni is wise beyond her years: she had to be! Alaska is where she came to feel most at home. The book cover is gorgeous- Many thanks to Kristin Hannah too. View all 34 comments. Book coincidences. I always read multiple books at the same time, always have. So, I was reading History of Wolves, and because I had paper Arcs of both books and wanted to pass them on, I also started this one.

Both deal with the trauma of war, but this one was set in Alaska, and I love books set in cold climates. It is the seventies and Ernt, who came back much changed from Vietnam, can't seem to settle. Moving his small family from place to place, until he is left a small cabin in Alaska, fro Book coincidences. Moving his small family from place to place, until he is left a small cabin in Alaska, from a buddy who served with him.

So off they go, very unprepared for the hardness and danger that Alaska presents. Cora, who loves and will do anything for her husband and their young teenage daughter, Leni. Some fabulous characters, fantastic setting, and some extremely challenging issues. I never felt sorry for Ernt, despite what he went through, he was not a very nice man. That is an understatement, spousal abuse to me is inexcusable, the effects on a young Leni, just terrible.

There are many people they meet in Alaska that were loving and helpful, Leni starts a relationship and then tragedy strikes again. This story really pulled me in, couldn't look away, and yes the ending may be a bit treacly but let's just say some of these characters deserved some happiness. Enjoyed watching and learning as they learned to survive in Alaska, made friends and found stolen moments of joy. Yes, this made me teary up more than once, and I have to say everyone could use a guardian angel like Large Marge.

ARC from publisher. View all 61 comments. Nov 20, Carol rated it it was amazing Shelves: published , historical-fiction , netgalley , read , favorites. OH BOY. View all 75 comments. Mar 08, Furrawn rated it did not like it Shelves: books-i-truly-hate. Warning, I usually write quirky lyrical bits about a book. This is going to be more of a rant. There might be accidental spoilers so steer clear if that will bother you. I truly hated this formulaic flat stereotypes-everyone book.

Made everyone I know read it. I thought The Nightingale hung the moon and stars. I was excited beyond words for the release of The Great Alone. The Good: The first few pages were great Further into Warning, I usually write quirky lyrical bits about a book. Further into the book, the descriptions of the Alaskan landscape will move you and make you feel like you are standing there with the chill and snow kissing your face.

The actual writing and turns of phrase are still beautiful in most places. The Bad: The book put a bad taste in my mouth almost immediately. Reading this book makes you think that ALL traumatized war vets become monsters. Ernst is a total worthless human being. Whatever he was before the Vietnam War, he comes back as a monster. Why was Ernst not seeing a therapist? Instead, he chose to be a raging alcoholic and to beat his wife and later his child.

This is a choice. The battered wife. Most of them would have left an abusive husband over the rabbit heart. Most battered women will take abuse but will find the strength to leave the husband if he hurts their kids. Every single character, even Leni, is the least of the best possibilities. You know Job? I get that Alaska means you can be yourself. Hannah manages to make it sound like a lot of them are crazy. I doubt they are any crazier than the crazies in the lower forty-eight.

She also writes about the flip side- the community spirit.


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Hannah piles on catastrophe after catastrophe. How could she write The Nightingale and then this? I just am gobsmacked. I read this overwrought mess of a book to the end. View all 73 comments. Sarah I gave it 2 stars because I liked the physical descriptions of Alaska. But the storyline was completely ridiculous, unbelievable, and shallow. Jun 23, AM. Assumed it was my fault. Jun 24, AM. A full moon cast blue-white light on everything.

Stars filled the sky with pinpricks and elliptical smears of light. Up here, at night, the sky was impossibly huge and never quite turned black, but stayed a deep velvet blue. The world beneath it dwindled down to nothing: a dollop of firelight, a squiggly white reflection of moonlight on the tarnished waves. Ernt, Cora and their teenage daughter, Leni.

Ernt, a veteran of the war, suffers from PTSD turning what should be a family haven into a battlefield of turmoil, threats and ferocious insecurity. Dissatisfied with his country, surrendering to his absurd notions of how a country should be governed, he drags his family into the Last Frontier. A place of unimaginable beauty and danger. I am sorry to say that this novel left me cold and disappointed… There is no doubt that the premise of the story is interesting and realistic. The descriptions of the Alaskan nature are breathtakingly beautiful and there are quite a few elements that made me feel invested in the story of the Allbright family initially.

This historical era is one that always attracts my interest and Hannah did a good job transferring it into the heart of the narration. All the familiar 70s trademarks have been put into good use. The search for a spiritual destination, the notion of Unitarianism, the rallies for peace. Stilted and exaggerating like a cheesy Hollywood film. This is my main complaint with this novel. How many chapters do you need to say the same things again and again? The only thing it made me feel was irritation and a deep desire to read the end and abandon the book altogether.

Not my ideal picture of an interesting book. On a side note, the references to The Thorn Birds and the friendship between Frodo and Sam were melodramatic, cheesy and irritating. In my opinion. With the exception of Leni whose romantic story was laughably bad , the rest of the characters left me utterly indifferent. I quickly lost patience with Cora.

Despite the fact that she takes some action, her character is no figure to look up to. At least, not according to my standards. Ernt is a loony. Plain and simple. No justification, no pretext. The excuse of PTSD is quickly wasted. Horrible character, written as a caricature to force drama. For the beauty of the Alaskan territory and the character of Leni and for the fact that I was not the suitable reader for this book.

View all 28 comments. Like a curved, upturned palm, Alaska beckons with her beauty, her majesty, and her prolific grandeur. The awe-inspiring allure gestures first until the ruggedness of her backbone sets in. The Allbright family lives on the edge of a nomad's existence. Seattle, once filled with promise, no longer does. It's and these displaced individuals are the walking wounded. Ernt bears the mental and physical scars of being a prisoner of war held in Vietnam.

The nightmares are no longer wrapped in the dar Like a curved, upturned palm, Alaska beckons with her beauty, her majesty, and her prolific grandeur. The nightmares are no longer wrapped in the darkness. They seep into the day and explode without warning. Cora, his wife, flits back and forth with her feeble attempts to sidestep his abusive behavior. And caught in the throws of this disfunction is thirteen year old Leni.

Her silence lays a mantle over the brokenness. Ernt receives a letter from the father of his best friend who was killed in Vietnam. It's his for the taking. Ernt whoops with joy and begins to sell everything they have for a beat-up VW bus in order to make the journey. Cora sees the face of the love she long remembered from before the war. Perhaps this is the new beginning that they are so desperate for. And Leni just yearns for a place of permanence for once in her young life. With hardly a plan or adequate preparation, the Allbrights find themselves in the jaw-dropping majesty of the Alaskan wilderness.

Winter Garden - Behind the Book | Kristin Hannah

With the help of Mad Earl's family and the resourceful Marge Birdsall, also known as Large Marge, the Allbrights cut into the land and start to dig in. Like the famous line from Game of Thrones: "Winter is coming. But our story brushes against more than Nature Ernt begins to resent his new neighbors as the darkness within him takes hold once again.

And once again, Cora invents excuses for Ernt's behavior until she begins to believe it all herself. She and Leni hardly breathe in the confines of that tiny cabin. Kristin Hannah creates a storyline that lays bare the tragedies of war, broken families, unfulfilled dreams, and the explosive side of a dormant wound. Her characterizations are remarkable as life unravels from to We will experience the dramatic changes that take place within Leni as she shields herself from the rages that exist within as well as those from the treacherous land itself.

Kristin Hannah writes from a source of profound respect for the individuals who ramble down the uneven terrain of life. Her words will invoke a gamut of feelings within you as you leave your own footprints behind. A remarkable read, indeed, and so worthy of your attention. My thanks to St. Martin's Press and to Kristin Hannah for the opportunity.

View all 37 comments. Feb 27, Jen rated it it was amazing Shelves: 5-star-favourites. I think Kristen Hannah is like a fine wine. With each new novel, she gets better and better. Thirteen year old Leni and her parents move to the Alaskan wilderness as a possible solution to her dad's illness.

He suffers from PTSD having returned from Vietnam broken, with an extreme vision and little survival skills. Once the harshness of winter sets in, the human spirit is tested in a family whose relationship is already in a delicate balance; the lack of daylight brings with it the challenges of I think Kristen Hannah is like a fine wine. Once the harshness of winter sets in, the human spirit is tested in a family whose relationship is already in a delicate balance; the lack of daylight brings with it the challenges of isolation and survival.

The darkness envelopes them and tempers are shorter. Abuse becomes the weapon of choice for her father to battle the inner demons that visit him almost daily. The sacrifices both her and her mother make as a means of survival come at a high cost. Even love is a threat in this environment.

The wildness of Alaska will either break them or strengthen who they are and who they will come to be. This is Hannah's crown jewel. View all 88 comments. Feb 17, Susanne Strong rated it really liked it Shelves: traveling-sister-read , netgalley. Alaska, This is the story of the trials and tribulations of the Allbright family. Life has not been easy for Ernt, Cora or their daughter Leni. Ernt is a POW, home from Vietnam. He is now prone to fits of anger and extreme violence. Ernt considers alcohol to be his savior — yet for his wife and daughter, it is the devil.

In an incredible turn of events, a home is bequeat 4 Stars. In an incredible turn of events, a home is bequeathed to Ernt in Kaneq, Alaska and he feels that it is has last chance. Wanting to make him happy and keep him calm, Cora and Leni agree. The move is one for which they are wholly unprepared. Winters are fierce, harsh and absolutely terrifying. There are only 6 hours of sunlight a day, and the conditions are dire. The atmosphere and the wilderness however, give something to Leni Allbright that she has never had before, peace and solitude.

If only it was enough. Cora is a woman who fell very hard for a man who treats her the way that no woman should ever be treated. Her family is trapped in a vicious cycle, one whose demons it seems impossible to out run, even after having reached the ends of the earth. The characters are captivating and rich. This was Traveling Sister Read. The discussion for this book was very lively and full of emotion. I was glad to have my sisters close while I read it! Thank you to NetGalley, St. View all 65 comments. Apr 20, Julie rated it really liked it Shelves: st-martin-s-press , historical-fiction , paperback , This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.

To view it, click here. Alaska- beautiful, harsh, dangerous, addictive- After Ernst comes home from Vietnam, he flounders, suffering from what we would now term, PTSD. His wife, Cora, sees a much different man in front of her than the one she married. But, she is determined to help him, and so when he inherits a home in Alaska, she and their thirteen -year old daughter, Leni, follow him into unchartered territory. As they begin their journey they are filled with renewed hope and optimism, but simmering underneath that forced enthusiasm, is a great deal of nervousness and trepidation.

Yet for Cora and Leni, the danger that lurks around every corner, is within the confines of their own four walls. As a voracious reader, I am always surprised by how many amazing books and authors I have yet to sample. I have three or four Kristin Hannah novels languishing on my bookshelves that I am always meaning to read. Anyway, long story short, I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, which, of course, meant I had to read it and then review it, which is how this book, despite countless others to choose from, became my first Kristin Hannah novel.

I started this book a very long time ago, with the best of intentions of reading it prior to the release date, but became very frustrated with it almost immediately. As the awesome reviews began to trickle in, I started to get a little nervous. So, I put it aside for a while. I ended up reading this novel in fits and starts until I got tired of seeing it on my bedside table, and decided to plow through until the end, whether I wanted to or not. The taut atmosphere, being completely isolated, living in a cabin out in the middle of such extremes, with no one to call for help, never knowing when the next explosive confrontation would come, made this a hard book for me to consume in large quantities.

It was just too nerve wracking and intense. I started to dread turning the next page. If not for herself, for her daughter!! I know, I know, Cora exhibited the classic, textbook cycle of abuse. But, Leni deserved better than that. Therefore, I found myself running that loop in my head, chiding myself for judging, but unapologetic for my feelings, and ended up getting myself all upset and stressed out, as a result.

But, moving on- This is not the only problem I had with the book. Please everyone in the US. Look up Learn the history of it. It was around, but not common, even in big cities. We take it for granted now, so this might not have registered, but in the early seventies, calling was not a thing. I also noticed a few other gaffes, like Cora smoking on her last cigarette, only to miraculously have a fresh supply the very next morning.

His was classic abusive behavior, and I suspect it might have developed no matter what. Oh, he was sick, all right, but not only from the effects of the war. This was all swirling around in my head as I embarked on the second half of the book. It was dark, intense, edgy, suspenseful, but not in a way I normally like. In fact, it was downright depressing. I ended up liking the way everything turned out, even though it was sad on so many levels. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

I was experiencing many of the same emotions I normally feel after reading a romance novel. They made her feel as if women could be in control of their own destinies. Even in a cruel, dark world that tested women to the very limits of their endurance, the heroines of these novels could prevail and find true love. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. No one wanted to hint around that there is romance in this story, but Leni was tested to the brink of her endurance, yet she prevailed and found true love and despite everything she gets her happily ever after!!

And that, my fine friends why I read love stories. Leni and Matthew! Belonging, finding your tribe,family, separations, hardships, endurance, survival against all odds, true love, and happy ever afters!! All the elements of a great love story! And, of course, no one deserved that HEA more than Leni!! Sure, of course, it's not JUST a love story, as I've made clear at the beginning of this review, but at the end of the day, after all is said and done, that's the part of story that endures, the part that burrowed into my heart. I do understand the homage to Alaska, all of which was described beautifully.

Still, I am SO glad, despite the initial emotional drain, that I eventually finished it. It turned out to be a surprisingly rewarding read.


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These characters will pass through my thoughts on many occasions in the future and I will wonder how they are doing from time to time, but I know they are going to make it just fine!! View all 44 comments. When I was about 5 percent into the book I was loving it, but as I got just a little bit further I thought to myself, "if I wasn't committed to reading this for NetGalley, I'd move onto something else. I've held the lifelong belief that while reading books I've trav 4. I've held the lifelong belief that while reading books I've travelled all over the world in my mind.

For this reason, I do not feel at all like I've missed out due to my anemic personal travel log. One of the gifts I received from this book was the very unique experience of living "off the grid" in Alaska. It's the early s, and 13 year old Lenora Leni Allbright is living with the stress and uncertainty of her parents' volatile marriage.

His sleep is often disturbed by flashbacks and he's unable to control his jealously where his attractive and dedicated wife Cora is concerned. Leni has too often seen her father's hair trigger violence towards her mother, as well as Cora's willingness to forgive without consequences. Cora and Ernt fell in love quite young, culminating in unexpected pregnancy and a rushed, simple wedding. Cora came from wealth and her parents disapproved of the marriage, but her love for Ernt was steadfast. Even though Ernt didn't come home from the war the same man, Cora stoically dealt with the rollercoaster moods from her husband.

As Leni witnesses her parents riding the wild emotions of their marriage, their sexual passions still intact Her father sometimes hits her mother. Then a life-changing decision is suddenly made: Ernt receives a letter from the father of a fellow POW- one who didn't make it home alive. His comrade willed him some land and a home in Alaska.

Ernt views this opportunity as a lifeline; a place where he can live in solitude off the land. A place to start anew. With hope and some trepidation, Cora agrees to leave their Seattle home along with Leni and Ernt for an unknown future in Alaska. When the Allbrights arrive in this remote strip of Alaska, it's quite unsettling just how "off the grid" this new life will be. There is no running water or electricity, and their modest cabin is littered with dead bugs.

There is no bathroom; those needs are met by an outhouse. The only means of communication with their fellow cove inhabitants is by ham radio. They are also warned by the locals how easily one can die during the cruel Alaska winters. The Allbrights must learn how to hunt and fish, can foods, tend to livestock and cut firewood During the heart of an Alaskan winter, there are barely 8 hours of light in the day. Talk about cabin fever!