Novel that could be a Biography
My rating: 5 out of 5
A wonderful novel about the wonders of growing up living in the wilds of Alaska, surviving harsh winters, dysfunctional parents plus wolves and bears.
The story focuses on Leni who lives with her parents, who are constantly moving from US state to US state, hoping to regain the happiness they had before her father fought in Vietnam. An opportunity to move to Alaska arrives and within days they are on the road again. Evocative in few words (though it is quite a long book) the reader is whisked into the harsh lifestyle of Alaska – preparations for winter, schooling in a town with less than 30 permanent residents, and the importance of everyone working together to survive. The darkness of the winter applies to more than just the hours of daylight.
Despite all the hardships of their new lifestyle, Leni falls in love but the PTSD her father suffers from, and his violence, makes any thoughts of living away from the family home impossible. There is plenty of tension and suspense in Leni’s life, and the love she so wants seems to be a hopeless dream.
Set in Kaneq, on the Kenai Peninsular of Alaska, Kristin Hannah takes the reader into the detail, including the positives and hardships, of surviving in such a wilderness. Though this is a novel, the author has lived on the shores on the Kenai river, and (I guess) has drawn many of the scenes in her books from her life there, and stories of others. If the book inspires you to visit the area, there is mention at the end of the book of an Adventure Lodge in the area to stay at.
The book spans the years 1974 to 1986, with an afterword sent in 2009. I was so caught up in the book it is difficult to believe that Leni and her friends and family are fictional characters. The book took me through a wide range of emotions including excitement, happiness, shock and upset, whilst letting me experience the realities of a life in Alaska.
5+*s from me, as I loved every moment of this book, was swept away into the wilds of Alaska and lived every moment of Leni’s life through her eyes. 438 pages of wonderful reading, that I shall keep and treasure for the rest of my life!