The book I am reviewing is “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah. Let me just start off saying that it took me a long time to finish this book, only because I started it before the Pandemic. Once the pandemic started, I stopped reading it. However, once I went back to work, I finished it in a week.
I fell in love with the characters of this book. Ernt, Leni, and Cora Allbright. Ernt was the father, Cora was the mother, and Leni was the daughter. I technically fell in love with Leni and Cora, Ernt not so much (he was a bad guy).
SPOIL ALERT: DO NOT READ IF YOU PLAN TO READ THE BOOK
The story goes, Leni was a teenage girl and her father was an alcoholic man. He came back from Vietnam a changed man. But Cora loved him anyway, no matter how much he abused her.
Ernt would get in depressing moods and just want to pick up and move. So, one day when Leni got home from school, he picked his family up and whisked them out to Alaska. He inherited a piece of land from a Vietnam buddy who passed away. The issue with this was that the land was in the middle of nowhere. It was off the grid, they would all have to survive on their own.
When they arrived, the place was in shambles, but they made it their home. They were welcomed by other people in town. They’re really was only a handful, maybe a little more. They welcomed them with open arms and Ernt appreciated that. He thought Alaska would help him get better, get rid of his demons. However, it made him worse. His wife Cora was an attractive woman, so when men would look at her, he would become enraged and go home and hit Cora, like it was her fault.
When Leni started going to school there, there was only one classmate her age and his name was Matthew. Now at this time they were about 14. They were just friends, they didn’t think of each other in that way. However, something changed between them when Matthew watched his mother die. She was sucked under the ice. Matthew was devastated by her loss, that he decided to move in with his grandparents in a different part of Alaska, and Leni was left on her own.
Four years later, things were becoming really severe with her parents, that she wanted to get out there. More rather she wanted her mom, Cora to leave her dad. He was becoming more and more abusive and drinking more. Around this time is when Matthew came back. When Leni saw him, something changed inside her. She had a burning passion for him. She couldn’t stop thinking about him, and he about her. One thing you have to understand is that Ernt hated Matthews family, so she was forbidden to see him or hangout with him. However, during their senior year, they would sneak out and take trips and have picnics and that’s where Leni was kissed for the first time. She was thrilled and she wanted more.
One night Leni’s parents went out and she knew they would be gone for hours, so she invited Matthew over to the house. They made love for the first time that night. Matthew woke up to the sound of people walking around down in Leni’s house. He woke her up and she had to get him out of the house. She dragged her folks out of the house and Matthew got away.
After that night, things would never be the same. Leni wanted to be with Matthew always, but she couldn’t, so her plan was to go to college with him. She would leave this life behind, away from her dad and go with him. Her and Cora decided they were going to leave him. They headed to town with Ernt, and Leni yelled to Matthew to help them. Ernt heard that and yelled for them to get into the car. They went back into the truck and headed back home, but Matthew followed. When Ernt and the family got into the house, that is when all hell broke loose. He started beating Cora with her fists, smashing her nose and her face. Matthew came and pulled him off her and knocked him out. Cora and Leni went into Matthews truck.
They headed into town and Cora was dropped off at a really close friends house. Matthew took Leni up a mountain so they could escape her father. They set up a tent and woke up to each other. Leni was happy, but she needed her mom. She wanted to make sure she was okay. She needed to go, so Matthew decided to take her back. On the way down it started raining, and Leni lost track of Matthew and she fell into a crevice of the earth. She woke up with a broken arm and she couldn’t catch her breath. She broke some of her ribs. Matthew came after her and tried to save her life, but instead, it cost him a huge price. He fell and was in bad shape. He had a brain injury and he couldn’t walk.
A few hours, they were found and transported by hospital. Leni got patched up and was sent home. Matthew however, was in a coma. They weren’t sure if he would ever wake up.
When Cora and Leni arrived home, her dad was waiting for them. Cora didn’t press charges like she promised she would. Instead he went after them, but Leni told them she was pregnant and he started to beat the hell out of her. That is when Cora, took a shot gun and shot him! Not once, but twice. They had to hide the body, because this took place in the 70’s where it didn’t matter that men hit women. She would go to jail.
They hid the body and came back to the cabin, Cora’s close friends cleaned up and made up a fake story, saying that they were missing. Leni and Cora had to leave Alaska and went to Seattle, where Cora’s parents lived. They stayed there for 7 or 8 years. Cora became sick with Cancer, and gave Leni a confession letter and to go back home to Alaska with Leni’s son MJ. She told her she belonged there with Matthew, although she still thought he was a vegetable. That was her last wishes. She died and did what she was told. Her mom left her two one way tickets to Alaska.
Once they arrived, Leni did what she was told. She went to the police station and handed the envelope from her mom. The chief read it and coaxed her into telling him what really happened. She eventually told him what really happened and he arrested her. She told him to call Mr. Walker (Matthew’s dad) to come down. Mr. Walked came and saw Leni and she introduced him to his grandson. She told him to take care of him and left.
An arraignment was supposed to happen, but Cora’s friend came in and told the judge (who was friends with this woman) that it was a load of crap. All of a sudden there was a phone call from the governor and the case had been dropped. Thanks to Mr. Walker. In case you didn’t know, Mr. Walker is a big deal in Alaska, so he had a lot of strings.
Leni reunited with her son back on the Walker ranch. She wanted to see Matthew, but she was afraid. Mr. Walker took her to see him and when the door opened, she saw that he was conscious and aware. He was in a wheelchair and still had some damage to his head, but he was mostly aware of what was going on. He spoke in phrases. She was so happy he was back. She told him that he was a father. They walked hand in hand, (yes he could walk as well) and she took him to meet their son. He fell in love with him, as soon as he saw him. MJ yelled out daddy, and they became a family in Alaska.
This story actually had me crying. I never cry in books, like ever. But this one, I really couldn’t help myself. I give this story 4.5 stars. I would have given it 5, but it was a little slow in some parts. Especially toward the end. I kept waiting and waiting for the climax.