“Featuring a rich cast of characters and elevated by the riveting portrayal of homesteading in Alaska in the 1970s, this is a compassionate story of a family.”

 

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

This novel takes place in Alaska. It is the story of the Allbright family. Ernt Allbright has returned from Vietnam where he was held as a POW to his wife Cora and young daughter Lena. He is a very different man than the one that existed before the war. He is unstable and can’t hold a job for too long. When he finds out that a former fellow army buddy who died in the War has left him his property in Alaska he moves the family there, hoping for a new life. The property is in a very small town way up North, and the locals pitch in to help the Allbrights get ready to survive the Alaska winter.

When winter comes, the bad side of Ernt returns. He is physically abusive to his wife due to his jealousy and he quickly falls into a state where his abuse has alienated him from much of the community. The closest neighbor to the Allbrights are the Walker family consisting of Tom and Grace, their son Matthew and daughter Aleyska. Matthew attends school with Lena, and they quickly become very close to each other. When Grace Walker dies in an accident while Matthew can only hopelessly watch, Leni helps him through his grief and they become more than just friends. But Ernt is jealous of the Walkers wealth and position in the community and he cannot abide his daughters relationship with Matthew. This will be the turning point in the book and the rest of the story will all be a result of this situation.

I had some early problems with the book because of the extreme amount of abuse suffered by Cora Allbright at the hands of her husband, and because it starts early in the book and just continues to occur, I could not see how the author could maintain this constant pressure in the story without the reader finally saying enough and putting the book down. But she does and the book changes in a way that makes it a more comfortable read.

The way the Author describes the problems living in Alaska are terrific. You will feel the desperate aloneness of the Alaska winter and your heart will go out to Cora and Lena as they try to survive not only the elements of the State they live in, but how they try to survive the elements in their home. A tough story told very well. Recommended.

 

Reviewed by:

Richard Franco

Added 18th March 2018

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Richard Franco