The Great Alone… had great potential.
☆THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS☆
As I read, I was confident this one would make it as one of my favorites just as Hannah’s other novel, The Nightengale, had.
The first half is well rounded with character building, realistic and just enough drama to keep the reader coming back. Leni’s dad, Ernt(horrible name) is irrational, delusional, extremely abusive and suffering from PTSD from the war. We meet Leni’s Mom, Cora, who is hopelessly in love with Ernt and always hoping for the best after every beating. We meet Leni who is 13 and forced to tag along her parents sick ride which leads them to Alaska. They arrive and basically fuck shit up in Kaneq… Ernt drives the town against eachother with his anger and delusional conspiracy theories and starts to isolate his family from everyone. Basically, Ernt is a huge piece of shit and very easy to hate, this becomes frustrating when Cora continues to crawl back to him despite how serious her injuries get. Meanwhile, Leni falls in love with a boy name Matthew. They become eachothers true loves finding solace from their tattered lives which was Leni’s abuse at home and Matthew watching his mother die.
Then we get to the 2nd half and shit hits the fan… over and over until your rolling your eyes at how much bad luck Leni has, its unrealistic. Matthew almost dies saving Leni and goes into a coma then has severe brain damage – Leni finds out she is pregnant – Dad beats her – Mom kills Dad and they cover it up – leave town – Leni has a baby boy – acts like she lived in Alaska all her life yet it was only 5 years…depressed and wants to go back to Alaska – Mom dies – Leni goes back to Alaska and to the cops with moms confession and she confesses to helping hide the body when she was specifically told not to (idiot)- gets arrested -old friends come to save her – she sees Matthew – still in love – have more babies- happily ever after.
It felt like Hannah was trying too hard in the 2nd half. Drama OVERLOAD! For 1, it didn’t make any sense when Leni and Matthew got caught in the storm and she ended up so far away from him and didnt say a peep which lead to her falling into the cave area. She had lived in Alaska long enough to know she should have cried for help much earlier, it wasn’t realistic given their lifestyle. 2nd, her moms death was very dragged out and could have off’d her the first time they talked about Leni going back. Lastly, the entire part when Leni shows up to bring in her Moms confession and she gets arrested for confessing helping hide the body, could have been removed entirely, it added nothing of value to the book and by then I was tired of the endless misfortune of this poor girl. The last few chapters were sweet, the reuniting of lovers, a family coming together and 0 ridiculous drama.
Despite Hannah’s knack for setting the scenes, the 2nd half was just too much. I still have faith in her and will try another one but for now this book has earned a 6/10. 5 for the first half and a 1 for the ending.