Genre: Historical Fiction/Coming-of-Age
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Story Perspective: Alternating First-Person
Themes: Survival, Domestic Abuse, PTSD, Finding Strength, Family,
Loyalty, Relationships, Friendship, Teenage Angst, Loss
This book was given for free, courtesy by NetGalley.
After years of moving around, the Allbrights have finally settled in the barrenness of Alaska. Thirteen-year-old Leni, her father, Ernt, and her mother, Cora, have high hopes that this move will be good for all of them, especially Ernt’s sadness.
However, with Ernt’s PTSD as a Vietnam POW and Cora’s inability to see the ever-growing darkness within her husband, things don’t turn out exactly how everyone had hoped it would. The summers are bright and welcoming, but when the darkness of winters come, Ernt’s mental state becomes more and more unstable.
Oh my goodness! What an incredibly emotionally-packed book! You name the emotion, I felt it – happy, sad, fear, proud, skeptical, heartbreak, satisfaction, worried, and more that I’m probably forgetting. I also felt the beauty, yet fearfulness of living in Alaska. This makes me wonder why in the world haven’t I read a Kristin Hannah book before this one? I’ve seen her books, but never gave one an opportunity, but I will absolutely have to now!
Starting with the imagery and the feeling of Alaska, it all felt vivid and real. I loved being there in the refreshing beauty of Alaskan days, wanting to explore its natural beauty and perhaps help with storing food for the harsh winters. When winters came, I shivered and worried about survival when food ran low. I just absolutely love when authors can bring you into the world they’ve created.
When looking at characters and character development, they were superb. Broken Ernt’s PTSD was horrifying and to see his ups and downs were extremely scary. Cora’s inability to leave her abusive husband’s nature due to the love she still holds for him was so sad. Then, there was young and fierce Leni. As the years progressed throughout the novel, her growth was logical and heartbreaking. Lastly, even the secondary characters played such significant roles and they felt so real to me. One of my favorite characters was perhaps Large Marge who, though loud, was always reliable and was unafraid to tell the truth.
The plot moved so well and I found myself wanting to slow down this fast-paced novel to savor the story more. Without giving too much away, there were some twists and turns, scenes that were so terrifying and some that were so lovely. Every time there seemed to be a valley of steady plot flow, a giant mountain peak would sneak up on you.
Its historical aspect was interesting. Some that were drizzled throughout included: the injustice views of battered women in the 1970s/1980s, the mention of women disappearing during the height of Ted Bundy, the aftereffects of being a POW of the Vietnam War, and the Great Alaska Adventure Lodge is a real-life experience that wasn’t always there.
Overall, this has become one my favorite books so far this year, and I am so happy that NetGalley gave me a chance to read this! As I have said before, I look forward to reading more from Kristin Hannah.
I would absolutely recommend this read to anyone who enjoys novels with a lot of emotions and do not mind reading some scenes of domestic abuse.
Was this a book of my choosing or one for review?
9 out of 50 books for review for 2018