I don’t know if it is just me but 2019 went by so fast, I was lucky to have read some really great novels. However these two novels by Kristin Hannah really left a lasting affect on me. Both novels focus on a multitude of themes and emotions that really make the reader feel connected and part of both stories.
The Great Alone was the first book I read I had no clue what to expect from this novel I had only seen its beautiful cover all over social media. One day I stumbled into a thrift shop and saw the cover sitting on the shelf and immediately grabbed it and purchased it. I was completely taken by it in the first chapter and couldn’t put it down. The Great Alone is a novel written around a family of three Lenni being the daughter of Ernst and Cora Allbright. At the beginning of the novel the background of Ernst is briefly gone over and the reader gets a little glimpse of the PTSD that he suffers from. Ernst had come home from the Vietnam war and when he did things got dark and twisted in his mind. In 1974 the Allbright family is having trouble surviving due to Ernst not being able to keep a job. However when Ernst gets news that a buddy from the Vietnam war has left him a piece of land in Kaneq, Alaska he sees this as a fresh start and immediately packs the family up and moves to Alaska. However as good as things start out they easily begin to take a downhill spiral. The harsh living conditions that are presented to the Allbright family makes Ernsts PTSD worsen day by day and in all of this Lenni begins to see who her father really is. Cora keeps a brave face and tries to be as positive as she can and is constantly walking on egg shells unsure of when her husband might be triggered. Cora and Lenni begin to carry the weight around the house and start to meet friends the reader gets to experience the comfort and love from the community that surrounds the Allbrights. Lenni begins to create a bond with a boy named Matthew who she learns suffers from a harsh upbringing just as she does. Kristin Hannah somehow managed to create this wonderful novel in which two innocent children come together and with the damage and heartbreak that they both experience they find themselves creating a safe place in each others arms. I completely loved every aspect of this novel and the way the timeline flows so well, it is easy for the reader to be pulled in. I also felt like Kristin Hannah really dug deep into the depiction of Ernsts PTSD and really made the reader see him in different forms.
The Nightingale was another book I had no clue what to expect, I was aware it was set back into a different time period and I knew it was set in France. Two sisters Vianne and Isabelle must survive what will become the most terrifying time in each of their lives. Vianne is a mother and wife and her husband just leaves for the war. However Vianne has a positive mindset and does not think the Nazis will invade France. Not until she see the marching soldiers and gets a knock on her door from a German captain who demands she hands over her house or let him live with her. Vianne finds herself having to accept the captain in order to survive. On the other hand her sister Isabelle who is the polar opposite of Vianne and is extremely independent and knows she is destined for something great. However when she falls in love with Gäetan a man who is passionate about fighting the Nazis it is then that she sees him for what he is. Unfortunately Gäetan betrays her and she fuels her sadness and anger with the passion to rescue as many people as she can even if it means putting herself at risk. I loved the powerful emotions that were brought into each sisters heart along with the growth that came with each sisters struggle. Kristen Hannah takes the reader back into the time of WWII and shows the other side of the war, the war that women and children battled while their husbands and fathers were gone.
Both of these novels really stayed with me and that is why they are my top two reads of 2019, Kristin Hannah is an all around amazing author. If you are looking for a good read I highly recommend either one of them!