In 1974, fourteen-year-old Leni Allbright and her parents Ernst and Cora move from Seattle to the wilderness of Alaska looking for a fresh start. Leni’s father had returned from Vietnam a broken man, haunted by horrific memories that rob him of sleep and render his moods volatile and unpredictable. The family hope that the harsh beauty of The Last Frontier and the self-sufficiency it demands from its inhabitants will help Ernst heal and refocus.
Arriving in early April, the Allbrights find homesteading in Alaska to be hard work, but things go reasonably well while the weather is mild and days are long. But when the winter sets in with its bone-chilling cold and endless darkness, the demons Ernst managed to keep at bay rear their ugly heads again. Not only does he turn more violent, he begins to spin conspiracy theories and becomes obsessed with isolating his family from the rest of the world by building a fence around their property.
As time goes on, Leni begins to fear for her and her mother’s safety. However, the remoteness of their homestead and her parents’ irrational love and codependent relationship stand in the way of getting help.Together with her boyfriend Matthew, Leni forms a plan to leave for college in Fairbanks without her father’s knowledge, but when an accident occurs Leni’s life is turned upside down. Ernst’s paranoia reaches its peak until a confrontation threatens to destroy the family.
The Great Alone is an insightful portrait of post-traumatic stress and its impact on individuals and families. It is also an exploration of the political crises and economic tensions of the 1970s, which gave rise to many of the anti-government, militant, and anarchical sentiments that have been around ever since and have been getting traction again in recent years. They are especially poignant and prescient in the light of the political evens of 2020/2021.
If you like historical fiction, you may enjoy Silent Water, a Jagiellon Mystery Book 1, set at the 16th century royal court in Cracow. It’s available in ebook and paperback on Amazon and FREE to read on Kindle Unlimited.