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Sandy

My Never Ending List

I read almost every genre & I enjoy venturing into unfamiliar territory. As a library volunteer, I'm constantly bringing home novels. Being a substitute teacher, I read lots of YA & children's books.  

The Great Alone

The Great Alone - Kristin Hannah
I thought this novel moved quickly, it covered a lot of ground. There were times though that I wanted the novel to move even faster, as the scene unfolding was brutal and it seemed as if time stood still. The landscape provided for a volatile tale and the characters inside this novel filled-in the rest. Explosive and dangerous at times yet a few pages later, a tranquil and caring sensation spread over the pages. This was Alaska, the home to individuals who set out searching for something and the home to those wanting to hide.
 
Leni’s father, Ernt has not been the same since he came back from the Vietnam War. His cheery personality went out the door and, in its place, stood a man who was distant, moody, and angered easily. Leni is tired of starting new schools and would like her parents to put down some roots.
 
Ernt has been gifted with some land from a friend he knew in the service. This soldier died but left his land to Ernt. Leni has mixed feeling about moving to Alaska. Finally, her family will have a permanent home but Alaska seems like such a harsh place to live.
 
 
They meet Large Marge who runs the general store in Alaska and immediately, I knew I liked her. She was honest and she spoke what she thought. I was glad that Leni’s homestead would be close to L.M. as I thought she was someone Leni needed in her life. Finally arriving at their homestead, they see their land is overgrown, the cabin deteriorating, but Ernt’s dreams were growing. With no modern conveniences, Leni tries to remain positive while taking in her surroundings.
 
There is a great community around them and soon the family is receiving help getting their prepared. Leni and her mother hope this move will change their father but it isn’t long before he finds the bar and the individuals who encourage his beliefs. Leni finds some escape when she finds a new friend at school, Matthew. While her mother, tries to fit in and comfort her father.
 
As winter approaches, father’s worsening behavior begins to take it toil on the family and those around them. I cringed as I read, hoping someone would step in and remedy the situation. Everything was coming together: the isolation, the harsh Alaskan winter, and the newness of their situation, it was all of these elements that made this story intense and unpredictable. Leni’s relationship with Mathew seemed like a bright light on this situation until we added father to the mix and then, this light began to dim. As I looked at Mother, she thought love held her close to her husband but as she accepted the abuse and she spoke the lies, a part of mother was dying.
 
I enjoyed this novel. I thought the setting of the story was terrific and it put some great elements into how the story unfolded. The characters had me on edge. They each had their own personality and together they made a great community.
 
‘Sick, twisted, love that bound her parents together.”