~The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah~
In 1974, 13 year old Leni’s father announces that they will be moving to Alaska. Her father, Ernt, has been gifted with a homestead. Leni and her parents pack their belongings in a VW bus and head north. They are ill prepared for the wilderness that greets them. The community pools together to help the trio, but they quickly learn that the environment is a harsh and unforgiving one.
Even worse, the long winters aggravate Ernt’s mental condition. He was a POW and has nightmares coupled with a violent temper. Cora, Lani’s mother takes the brunt of Ernt’s violence, but the situation soon escalates.
Kristin Hannah tackles a tough subject in this book, and I think she did a good job of portraying the complexity of one facet of domestic abuse. I mostly liked this novel. While it kept my interest, it was difficult for me to relate to the main characters. The women were too weak for my liking and this frustrated me. I wanted them to figure out how to stop being victims, but I think that was one of the points of the story. I cared enough about the characters to finish the book in a short period of time.
Victims of domestic abuse often cannot find their way out. The convoluted thinking of the abused wife shows her reasoning and ability to live in denial. The characters were completely believable. I think this is a realistic portrayal of women in this situation.
This is a long book. I liked the first half better than the second, which seemed to drag in spots to me. It felt like a genre shift, but then returned to the familiar story telling of the first half.
This novel is well worth the read, and I recommend it. Kristin Hannah fans will love this book. The vivid descriptions of Alaska and the community there made me want to visit. Not in winter, though!