By Lynn Willoughby
The Great Alone ~ Kristen Hannah
Many, many vets of the Viet Nam war suffered from PTSD. However, it was never labeled and they were expected to return home and pick up their lives where they left off – with their family, with their job.
Ernt Allbright came home an enraged, volatile, hard drinking, brutal man. When he loses yet another job in Settle, he decides to pack up his wife and thirteen-year-old daughter and move to Alaska, where his war buddy, Bo, has left him some land with a small home on it.
The very small town they arrive in, in mid-June, is full of eccentric, independent, strong, resilient men and women. They all pitch in to build a greenhouse and a meat cache for the Allbrights. The neighbours desparately try to impress upon the Allbrights the importance of preparing for winter. The Allbrights really don’t realize what winter in Alaska means.
As the hours of daylight dwindle, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates. Cora, his wife, always tries to placate him and takes the brunt of his beatings and brutality. Leni is constantly troubled by their love-hate relationship. But it is a hard lesson when Cora and Leni learn they are alone – really alone.
The pioneer spirit of these people of the north is explored. Most are hiding from something or someone and this is the community the Allbrights and their problems now inhabit. The beauty of the landscape, the fight for survival by both man and beast, surround this desperate little family.
I enjoyed this read, but was troubled by the thought of a fragile mind spending six months of winter alone and mostly in darkness.
- The Nightingale
- Winter Garden
A food or meat cache is designed to help preserve food for later use. Meat caching was used by Ice Age hunters in North America.