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Thirteen-year-old Leni can barely remember a time when her family experienced happiness and stability—before her father Ernt returned from six years as a prisoner of war in the Vietnam War a changed man, volatile and unpredictable.

In 1974, Ernt loses yet another job in a series of failures. Impulsively he decides to move with his wife, Cora, and Leni to a remote community in Alaska off the grid and far from what he considers to be the prying eyes of the United States government.

Initially, the family is excited about their fresh start, especially when they are warmly welcomed by the locals who teach them survival skills. But when winter arrives, the isolation and long hours of darkness exacerbate Ernt’s fragile mental state and violent outbursts. Though he continually rants about the dangers of the outside world, Leni realizes that “the biggest danger of all was in her own home.”

The Great Alone, an epic tale spanning the years 1974-2009 and filled with many surprising plot twists and turns, captures the majesty and beauty of Alaska. In Leni’s tale, readers discover Alaska’s “great and terrible gift,” namely that people who encounter the state will learn who they really are and what they will do to survive.

This novel for adults, which contains some profanity, also reveals the consequences to one family of a world in which Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was not understood and where violence against women was not taken seriously by law enforcement and the courts. (St. Martin’s Press)

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