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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah | Book Review + Questions

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Hey, you! 😊

In 2019, I decided to start a book club in our city. We're lucky to have an English book shop here, so it was the perfect place to get-together. Since the lockdown in 2020, I've decided to have our discussion online as people from other cities and countries have now joined us.

Anyways ...

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah was the first book we read for our Book Club so it has now a sentimental value to me.

In another post, I talked about the book Where the Crawdads Sing (click here for the post) and reading that book reminded me a lot of this one. Especially with its common theme of survival and nature.

In The Great Alone, we follow the story of Leni who is a 13 year old girl. Her dad is back from the Vietnam war and clearly shows PTSD signs which sadly they would have had no idea about at that time. Out of the blue, Leni’s dad decides to leave everything they have and move the family to Alaska. Her mother, Cora, is just so in love with the dad and agrees to move as well. Moving to Alaska is supposed to represent a fresh start, but as winter approaches it clearly affects the mental health of the characters and this move clearly becomes the start of the toughest tests this family will have to go through to survive.

Her mother, Cora, desperately clings to her husband, who isn't and will never be the man he once was. Instead, he sinks deeper and farther into the darkness. Leni finds herself stuck in a desperate situation. She wants to believe in this new life but she also has enough perspective to know that this isn't ever going to work. Yet, in this dark mess they are in, she develops friendships with the townspeople and finds love as she searches for her own identity.

It feels weird to describe this book as fantastic because of how sad it is. But really, I devoured it and let myself go on this emotional ride. Heartbreaking at times ... but there were also moments of great love and unbelievable kindness. I had tears in my eyes more than a few times and I knew Kristin Hannah is an author I should definitely watch out for. This is my first read from her and she has simply stolen my heart. "Nightingale" and "Firefly Lane" are on my list!

Book Club Questions:

  1. What is the significance of the title? Did you find it meaningful, why or why not?

  2. What were the main themes of the book? How were those themes brought to life?

  3. How important was the time period or the setting to the story? Did you think it was accurately portrayed?

  4. Which character did you most relate to and why?

  5. Which character or moment prompted the strongest emotional reaction for you? Why?

  6. Were the characters clearly drawn and depicted?

  7. What scene would you point out as the pivotal moment in the narrative? How did it make you feel?

  8. What surprised you most about the book? Why?

  9. How did you feel about the ending? How might you change it?

  10. What do you think will happen next to the main characters?

xoxo Elodie


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