The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Last night I finished The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.  I read well passed 11:00 so that I could finish it.

The book starts in 1974 in Seattle WA.  It is about the Allbright family and their abrupt  move to the wilds of Alaska.  The story is told by Leni, the only child of Cora and Erndt.  Erndt is a former POW of the Vietnam war and is haunted by his demons. After being told that he has inherited property in Alaska, he believes that taking his family to the Alaskan woods will help him recover from what we now know to be PTSD.  They quickly learn how wrong that assumption was and that the long, winter nights will turn their lives into an inescapable hell.  The story spans several decades and the reader really does care about Leni.  By the end of the book though, I had no sympathy for Erndt and found my sympathy for Cora quickly fading.

I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads, but I probably should have given it 4.  I started out really liking the book and read most of the day on Saturday.  I had to put it down and take a break because the descriptions the intense violence that Erndt inflicted on his wife near the end of the book.  It got to be too much for me.  But, after further reflection, I believe it was an accurate portrayal of what a former soldier with PTSD must be like.  In the end, I have to recommend this book.

Kristin Hannah reminds me of Jodi Picoult.  She has her own formula when writing and that formula rarely changes.  It works for her though. I am not so sure that all authors could have the same success following the same format time after time.   I think part of the reason it works so well is that she usually picks a relevent topic or historical fiction and builds a story around it.  I have read most of Kristin Hannah’s books, but my favorite continues to be Winter Garden.


The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

I love to read, in fact I would consider myself a voracious reader.  It is not uncommon to find me in bed before 9:00 pm with a good book.  I recently finished the book The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.

The book starts in 1969 New York City.  Four siblings visit a fortune teller who predicts the date of each of their deaths. Armed with this knowledge, they embark on their lives, haunted by these dates.  The reader wonders if the fortuneteller is conning the siblings, or if she truly knows the information that they are seeking.  That doesn’t really matter though, what matters is what each of the siblings chooses to do with the knowledge they are given.  Does she really know, or are will these dates be self-fulfilling prophecies.  Chloe Benjamin is a truly gifted writer. I have not read her first book, but will be reading it soon.

To date, I have read 17 books in 2018.  This book is the first great read of the year, in my opinion.  When Goodreads has it’s annual Best Reads of the Year, I am positive that I will be voting for this book.