The Great Alone is an intensely spellbinding story about a young dysfunctional family in crisis. It is a wild and passionate tale about domestic abuse, mental illness, love, loyalty, tragedy, and survival in the wilderness of Alaska during the 1970’s.
Thirteen year old Leni Allbright knows that her parents love her very much. She is beginning to realize that there is something very wrong with her family. Ernst, her dad, is a Vietnam veteran and former POW. He has terrible mood swings and suffers from PTSD. He is a good mechanic but cannot hold down a job. He is anti establishment and trusts no one. Sometimes he hurts Leni’s mother. Cora Allbright is a hard worker and a loving wife and mother. She excuses her husband’s behavior, believing it to be an illness like cancer or diabetes.
Ernst inherits a small homestead in Kaneq, Alaska and it is time for another fresh start. He moves the family to the Alaskan wilderness. The family is ill prepared for the hardships of living in a rough cabin with no running water or electricity. They do not have the skills or the means to prepare for the upcoming winter. How on earth will they survive? The Alaskan wilderness is beautiful and deadly. Winters are brutally cold, dark, and long.
The neighbors are very kind and helpful. Leni and her mother find friendship and kindness in the community. Ernst does not. He is irritable and angry with the community’s interference. He becomes more abusive and tries to isolate the family. The tight knit community of Kaneq comes to their rescue, giving them supplies and helping them prepare for winter. There is hope that the little family will be happy here.
This is a really good book. The story is very intense. Ernst Allbright is like a time bomb – ready to explode any minute and destroy everything around him. There are alternating times of peace where the family seems normal and then sadness where the little family seems about to fall apart. Somehow they survive some pretty terrible hardships and tragedies. The ending was surprising.
Alaska is a mysterious place to me. It is so interesting. The pictures are beautiful but I cannot image living in such a remote place, not to mention the harsh climate. And, according to the FBI, Alaska is the most violent state in our country. Rape, robbery, assault, burglary, and murder rates are higher per capita than any other state. Also, Ice, bears, moose, wolves, glaciers, extreme weather, avalanches, earthquakes, and even tsunamis can be deadly. Winters are brutally cold and dark. I don’t think I would like to live there but I would love to see the Northern Lights.