Book Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Book Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah 4 Stars ****

Also appropriate for Young Adult Readers

Written by the author of The Nightingale, this book also has a magnetic pull on the reader with its sympathetic characters and wild, untamed setting in the Alaska of the 1970’s. A wonderful, but sometimes repetitious story, often undeveloped, melodramatic events, too many hints about what the future holds, confusing innuendo, and rather abrupt contrived ending made this 4 Stars for me instead of the 5 Stars it should have had. Please don’t misunderstand. This is a terrific book.

Thirteen year old Lenora (Leni) Allbright abruptly leaves city life behind as her parents inform her they will start a new life in the wilderness of Alaska. Leni’s father, Ernt, a POW and Vietnam veteran suffering from severe post traumatic stress, has inherited a small house in the Alaskan wilderness from an army buddy who was killed during his captivity as a POW. Ernt views this as a saving grace, Cora, Leni’s mom, goes along with whatever she feels will make her husband happy, while Leni expresses skepticism that a change of scenery will improve her father’s psyche. Leni is the only one of her family grounded in reality and her fears prove to be prophetical.

Leni’s family is totally unprepared for life in the wilderness. With the help of caring, experienced neighbors, they begin to learn basic survival techniques. They must carry a knife and/ or gun at all times for protection from bears and wolves. The family learn to hunt, trap, fish, grow and store their own vegetables, chop wood, pilot boats, ride snowblowers, read the sky for signs of storms, and try to keep their balance with the unusually long days and nights according to the season. They live without electricity, central heating, and indoor plumbing. Trips to the outhouse are dangerous at night because bears lurk in the woods. Walking and driving are treacherous. It’s possible to fall through the ice and into crevasses and never to be found. And yet, they come to love this land and its people.

Leni forms a deep friendship with Matthew who is the only child her own age in the town. This friendship leads to love and romance. Leni’s father becomes increasingly more violent, plotting, controlling, and reclusive while Leni’s mother continues to live in denial as she provokes her husband’s jealousy by her flirtations with Matthew’s divorced father. It would be impossible to summarize what happens without spoiling the story. The reader is subjected to great emotional upheaval as we fear for the safety and well-being of all the characters in the book. This is a heart-wrenching tale.

We have a sense of being there since the descriptive passages  give a clear sense of life in the wilderness—its loneliness and dangers. The last few chapters come and go quickly and abruptly. Is the ending realistic? In some ways the possibilities exist, but how probable is this “happy” ending?

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018



What’s It All About? Sojourn Into The Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest by Elaine Donadio

What’s It All About?

You can preview and purchase  Sojourn Into The Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest at Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites for a digital or paperback copy, or you can visit for a digital copy.

Sojourn Into The Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest


Travel to the rainforest of Peru as the original photos in this watercolor journey help tell the story in this unrhymed,  poetic narrative which captures the stillness of the night and my delight in seeing unique creatures secure in their own world.

Awestruck by the beauty of the Peruvian rainforest, I behold what is hidden in plain sight. Aided by the full moon, the stars and three flashlights, the jungle guide traces the almost imperceptible – camouflaged creatures, unseen but for the probing lens and heightened senses of this mentor who, among the cacophony of undefined sounds amid ambiguous paths with buttress roots spread wide, staunch soldiers in their mission as lianas reach up with wooden fingers in communion with arboreal giants, quietly courses ahead in this exalted forest with depths of knowledge and intuition surpassing my own.

A teacher by profession, I become the student in this unfamiliar great biome, learning facts but also becoming aware of my limitations as a sentient being, capable of looking but incapable of seeing but for the gentle guidance of one who communes with nature.

My books are primarily geared to middle grade readers, but this book may be best suited to 12-adult (Nothing is X rated!).  They’re loaded with well-researched science facts and are appropriate for classroom study and/ or  supplemental or independent reading assignments with tie-ins for science, literacy and social studies. The secret of their success is their ability  and purpose in allowing the reader to have fun while learning—experiencing the world through the eyes of the characters—journeying with a friend, in a sense. Content area reading is what it’s all about.

Please visit my website  for study guides for this book. You can use the book for some of your answers, but you will have to do outside research, also.

Questions or comments? Please email me at I’d love to hear from you.

Happy reading!

All rights reserved 2018.



Borrow My Books From Queens and Suffolk , NY Libraries!

Welcome to my blog!

Printed copies of my books are now available for inter-library loan at Queens Library and Suffolk County Library in New York.

The digital copies are still available in many library systems throughout the country, but the printed editions are an added feature with limited access.

My Book Titles

Middle Grade…(8-12 year olds )

The Science Project
The Ocean’s Way
Who Do Voodoo?
The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion

12 – Adult…

Sojourn Into The Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

In New York, this is where you can find my printed books:

The physical copies are available from the Queens Library system at Central Library, Jamaica; Bay Terrace Library in Bayside; Whitestone Library in Whitestone. Or, you can borrow through inter-library loan if you’re a Queens County library patron.

Also, the physical copies are located in the East Hampton Library, East Hampton. Suffolk and Nassau County library patrons can borrow through inter-library loan online.

Happy reading! If you do decide to borrow my books from the library, please remember to write a review on the library website.




Sojourn Into the Night: A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

At eye level, buttress roots spread wide , staunch soldiers earnest in their mission.

At eye level, buttress roots spread wide , staunch soldiers earnest in their mission.

Here’s an excerpt from my unrhymed, poetic narrative “Sojourn Into the Night: A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest.”


A tattered cloak of ebony


by the stars

and the full March moon.

Unveiled, the tributary of the mighty Amazon,

river of the Napo people,


but for the shatter

of the small boat

quietly coursing ahead,

never suggesting the abundance of life

concealed beneath its depths.

Exalted forest fashions shadows,

at this moment in time,

occasioned by flashlights.


At eye level,

buttress roots spread wide,

staunch soldiers

earnest in their mission.

Lianas reach up

with wooden fingers

in communion with arboreal giants.

© 2014 All rights reserved. No part of this content may be reprinted or used in any form without express permission of Elaine Donadio Writes.







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