The Great Alone by Kristin Hanna
Book Review by Kristine Madera
You know a book is good when you yell at the characters for the choices they make. This was that book for me. The characters were rich and true to themselves (as frustrating as that was.) Alaska herself is a glorious character in all her brutal wildness and raw beauty. The writing was terrific and layered and kept me riveted. At times, the young narrator of the story (the daughter, Leni) was far too insightful to be believed, but since this was an adult novel and not YA, that was fine.
The family dynamic revolves around the physical, emotional, and psychological abuse that a returned Vietnam vet/POW inflicts on his family, and in particular, his wife Cora. Not a subject I generally like to read about in fiction. Having worked with battered women, I can attest to Hannah’s true-to-life portrayal of the classic abuse dynamic and progression from “lovingly” overbearing to erratic and dangerous on the abuser’s side, and the excuse-making, self-blaming, and tunnel vision of the abused. It is a tragic, predictable, heartbreaking cycle, and in the 1970s, when this novel takes place, there were even fewer helpful laws, protections, and resources to help the abused person break free from their abuser. The cycle and how accurately it’s portrayed made me want to hurl the book against the wall, but since I had it on audio, that would have started an infuriating cycle of having to buy a new phone. So I settled for yelling and cursing now and then.
This is my first Kristin Hannah book and probably not my last. A very worthwhile read if family abuse stories don’t give you flashbacks or nightmares.
Kristine Madera is a #1 bestselling Amazon author, novelist, hypnotherapist, and pro-topian with a passion for helping people better themselves and the world. Informed by global travel, teaching abroad, and a stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Kristine believes that everyone plays a part in imagining and creating our collective future.
Volunteering at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in Calcutta inspired her novel, God in Drag. She birthed her upcoming novel, The Snakeman’s Wife, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Papua New Guinea.
Read the first chapter of God in Drag HERE