By Amanda Merriman
Connection writer Amanda Merriman admits she is hopelessly addicted to books. It has been this way nearly all her life. Every month she shares what she has been reading with the hope that others will share in the obsession too.
While I read this month’s selection, I thought to myself, “Oh the humanity!” Kristin Hannah takes readers’ hearts for a ride in her latest novel, “The Great Alone.”
Set in the 1970s, 13-year-old Leni is in the midst of being uprooted yet again. Her father, Ernt, is a former POW, who believes America is moving in the wrong direction. He wrestles with a nasty temper that often leads to violence against Leni’s mom, Cora. Each time, he promises he will never hurt her again. Ernt believes the wilds of Alaska will soothe his spirit and keep his family safe. He inherits a cabin from a friend in The Great Alone, sealing the deal. Upon arriving at the property, Leni notes the cabin’s utter state of disrepair. They quickly discovered how ill prepared they were to survive in this harsh land. It came as no surprise that Ernt’s ego was also ill prepared to deal with their shortcomings. It did not take long for him to return to his old ways. Meanwhile, Leni, ever the expert at living in the wake of her parents’ relationship, struggles to find her place in the world.
“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.”
― Kristin Hannah, “The Great Alone”
As with any novel dealing with domestic abuse, there are certain parts of the book that are hard to read. However, Hannah’s writing makes it equally hard to put down. The characters are so colorful they seem real. In fact, in my most recent book club meeting, we worked out which actors would play the characters should this book get adapted into a film. There were points in the story where I found myself talking out loud to the characters, hoping the outcome would be different.
Fans of Hannah’s writing will recognize the emotionally-charged tone of “The Great Alone.” This book will move you. At its core, this story is one about hope and unconditional love. It is about sacrifices we make to keep these things alive in the face of incredible odds. When you sit down with this book, just make sure you have the day free to see it through to the end.
Fellow bibliophiles and book club members, feel free to join in the dialogue. Blog your thoughts and feedback at www.castlepinesconnection.com and enter the keyword “bibliophiliac” in the search bar. Have you read a great book recently? Don’t keep that juicy tidbit all to yourself. Email your find to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.