With all of that said, I still found this to be a worthy read. I love the thought of living a simpler life—although probably not realistic for this city girl—and spending a bit of time in Alaska proved to be eye-opening and even sort of refreshing. You never know, this might be your new favorite.
View all comments. Elizabeth Jackson I know everyone else has said it but you nailed it! Oct 23, AM.
Joyce I full agree with your take on this one of KH's books. I have to say I flipped thru a lot of it. Just was not a favorite of mine at all. Very disappointed. But looking forward to her next one anyway. Oct 31, Emily May rated it really liked it Shelves: , botm , historical-fiction.
All this time, Dad had taught Leni how dangerous the outside world was. The truth was that the biggest danger of all was in her own home. This book completely stole my heart. In fact, it was verging on a five-star read for me until the final few chapters-- which I felt were too rushed and more sentimental than I personally like.
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But I still highly recommend it. I loved the atmosp All this time, Dad had taught Leni how dangerous the outside world was. I loved the atmosphere that Hannah created. She deftly draws the wild beauty of the Alaskan landscape, painting it as the visually stunning and dangerous place it is. Set in the s and 80s, this is about a family of three arriving at the last frontier in search of a different kind of life. And, boy, do they get it.
The Allbrights must work themselves to the bone just to survive the perilous winter in Alaska, but we soon learn that for thirteen-year-old Leni and her mother Cora, there are dangers far greater and far closer to home than black bears and the freezing climate. They were trapped, by environment and finances, but mostly by the sick, twisted love that bound her parents together. The author wraps up a survival story inside a survival story. As the family grapple with raising livestock and gathering supplies for the long winter, they also must deal with the fragile, abusive dynamics that exist within their home.
Ernt is a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD before anyone knew what PTSD was and this, in turn, leads to violent episodes and paranoid behaviour that threatens the safety of his family.
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The complexity of the characters makes this book something extra special. You hate Ernt, and yet are forced to acknowledge that he is dealing with a mental illness back when no one was willing to call it such. You feel frustrated at Cora for sticking by him, and yet she is clearly a victim of abuse. Add to this mix a set of charming secondary characters, a budding romance, snowstorms, near-death experiences and animal encounters , and you have a book that is utterly enthralling.
I especially liked how the author captured the feeling of these Alaskans living in a isolated bubble of their own, being afraid of the "Outside" and the possibility of change. You can draw parallels between this and anyone who has ever desired to put up a wall to keep the "Other" out. Ernt - as well as others in their tiny town - wants to protect the community from any kind of change; from anyone who might come in and affect their way of life.
It is, of course, paranoid and delusional.
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I could probably go on and on forever, but I'll just say I loved almost all of it. 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. Jan 23, abby rated it liked it Shelves: historical-fiction. I know this isn't likely to be a popular opinion.
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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. 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. 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.
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This book really brings Alaska and off-grid living to life. But then it all fell apart.
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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 95 comments.