In the middle of this crazy busy life, a great book can be as good for the soul as a vacation, and in many cases, can inspire one. I’ve always had a desire to leave everything behind and live a simple life in an old beach house on a rugged island, or in an a-frame on a lake, or in an old converted barn on acres of wilderness. Places like Alaska, Maine, Montana, and Hatteras, NC, speak to me.
Intuitively, I must have known I needed a break from the hectic pace of my life because I found myself mindlessly strolling through Barnes and Noble looking for a distraction. I picked up The Great Alone by New York Times Bestselling author Kristin Hannah; the cover featured a road that “goes on forever” which appealed to me because I’m also an obsessive fan of the Allman Brothers Band. (A story for another time.)
The point is I wouldn’t have picked the book up otherwise. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that the story is set in America’s last true frontier.
When thirteen-year-old, Leni, moved to Alaska with her dysfunctional parents to live in a cabin in Kenaq, a fictional town that’s a ferry-ride away from Homer, Alaska, she didn’t know that the experience would change the course of their lives forever and finally provide her with a place where she belonged.
Hannah creates a beautifully believable story through the development of strong female characters with indomitable spirits. And her descriptions of the topography and wildlife of Alaska is breathtaking. I could not put the book down and spent an entire day under a throw just reading it all in.
Did you ever read something so well written that you actually felt like you knew the characters and believed you were living with them? I did, in this case, and actually missed Alaska and my new friends when it was over.
The next morning at work (Shhhh…) I read everything I could read on-line about Kenai, Alaska, the area that inspired the fictional town from the book. I investigated real estate, Googled silver salmon recipes and started planning my trip to America’s last frontier. I hope my upcoming Alaskan vacation is as good as the story that inspired it. This book is a worthwhile journey through one family’s desire to leave the world behind and live off the land on their own terms and the perils that come from choosing Alaska as that land. Enjoy.