The Great Alone

By Kristin Hannah

          Cora works as a waitress, but she is really a lost soul trying to figure out her life. Ernt, barely survived internment in a Vietnamese POW camp and relives his torturous experience every night. The two met and married while Cora was still a teenager, and shortly after Leni was born. Ernt’s mechanic jobs never work out, and they move continually trying to find peace and a small amount of normalcy. Then one day a letter arrives from a member of Ernt’s old Army unit, he has been left a piece of land with a cabin in Alaska. Is this their new beginning?

the-great-alone-book coverIn Alaska, they find themselves living off the grid. There is no running water or inside toilet; no electric or phone service. They are alone, and their neighbors are miles away. Only a two-way radio, weather permitting, is their connection to the outside world. It is a test of survival.

Winter in Alaska means darkness. The darkness is toxic for Leni (now 13) and her family. Ernt’s nightmares increase as does his Armageddon phobia and rage against the government. Both push him to drink. He becomes obsessed with survival tactics, forcing his family to perform maneuvers during the early morning hours.  Each day pushes the family to a breaking point. Leni and Cora turn to each other, as the war in Ernt’s head turns him into an abusive husband.

This novel is about love, denial, fear, hatred, survival, danger, trauma and sickness that binds a family; but at what cost? Will there be survivors?

Fair warning, this superb book is graphic and detailed.


If someone you love is being abused, it can be so difficult to know what to do. Your instinct may be to “save” them from the relationship, but it’s not that easy. After all, there are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships, and leaving can be a very dangerous time for a victim. Find a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling and support.

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