I didn’t love the only novel I’d read by author Kristin Hannah, The Winter Garden. To me, it seemed a pale copy to Helen Dunmore’s much more impressive The Siege.

But I was intrigued by the storyline of The Great Alone and decided to take a chance on this novel. I’m glad I did. I adored this coming-of-age tale of a young girl living in a challenging family environment in the wilds of Alaska in the 1970s.

One of the best aspects of this novel was the wonderful sense of place, the wilds of Alaska and the struggle an unprepared family must face to survive a rugged Alaska winter. The setting itself is more than enough reason to read this novel.

We follow thirteen-year-old Leni Allbright, who travels her mother and father to Alaska. Her father, Ernt, a POW in Vietnam, believes he can have a fresh start in Alaska. Leni’s mother has long ignored the warning signs, and goes along with the decision.

Sadly, young Leni soon realizes she can not count on either of her parents, and must quickly learn to rely on herself and the small group of friends she makes. There are quite a few plot twists, and some were a bit too page-turner and formulaic for my taste. Nevertheless, I still greatly enjoyed this beautiful homage to the wild beauty of Alaska as the stunning backdrop for one girl’s journey to adulthood.