Library Journal Review
Meet the Allbrights: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-afflicted Vietnam War returnee Ernt, his perennially in-denial wife Cora, and mature-beyond-her-years teenager Leni. Bequeathed a remote homestead in 1974 by a fallen army buddy, Ernt relocates his family to wild, remote Alaska, chasing dreams of self-sufficiency and simple independence. The family's dramatic unraveling as unprepared pioneers is exacerbated by Ernt's alcoholism-fueled brutality, Cora's desperate forgiveness, and Leni's unwillingness to reveal her parents' toxic bond even to the most welcoming, experienced locals. Despite her complicity, Leni finds friendship and love-and, eventually, salvation. Chameleonic veteran Julia Whelan makes the 15 hours of Hannah's (The Nightingale) latest best seller unstoppable, as she agilely narrates the twists and turns. Her characterizations beyond the fearsome trio are especially affecting, including general store owner (and former DC prosecutor!) Large Marge and Leni's soulmate Matthew in all his post-accident frustration and miraculous struggles toward recovery. Throughout the darkness and destruction that abounds, remember the name is Allbright-glimmers of lightness illuminate, with a final on-the-bright-water scene that will leave readers swathed in relief and joy. VERDICT Libraries should prepare for guaranteed demand. ["Not a cozy read, yet Hannah's fans will appreciate the astuteness of the story and the unbreakable connection between mother and child": LJ 10/1/17 review of the St. Martin's hc.]-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Voice actor Whelan ratchets up the suspense in her tense narration of this tale of Ernt Albright, a Vietnam vet with PTSD, who takes his wife, Cora, and 13-year-old daughter, Leni, to Alaska to live off the grid. After a soldier buddy dies and leaves Ernt a plot of land with a shack, the family moves there, hoping that a life among nature and fending for themselves will be a fresh start and a good fit for Ernt. But the isolation, darkness, and cold only exacerbate Ernt's irrational paranoia and anger. Whelan easily differentiates the voices of the three main characters: Ernt growls with rage, and Cora's voice trembles with fear while attempting to sound light and casual as she tries to placate Ernt, and Leni sounds both youthful and frightened. The secondary characters are just as memorable. Whelan gives a no-nonsense tone to Large Marge, a neighbor; she also perfects the ranting and raving of Mad Earl, a conspiracy theorist whose far-out beliefs fuel Ernt's paranoia. Whelan is especially effective during the violent scenes: instead of getting louder or more emotional, she drops her voice to a tense and chilling whisper. This edge-of-your-seat audiobook will keep listeners riveted. A St. Martin's hardcover. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Set in 1974 Alaska, this sweeping tale follows a girl coping with the dangers of domestic violence. Though ill-prepared for the extreme and harsh conditions, 13-year-old Leni and her parents, Ernt and Cora, have to learn how to survive in the unforgiving wild of their new home on the Kenai Peninsula. With the help of the small-knit community of endearing fellow homesteaders, the Allbrights manage to just barely stay afloat. But Ernt, who has never recovered from the trauma of fighting in the Vietnam War, struggles with the isolation and the interminably dark days of winter. Leni grows up witnessing her father (who is increasingly unable to control his paranoia and jealousy) abuse her beloved mother. Leni's greatest comfort and escape is her schoolmate and neighbor Matthew. Over the years, their friendship evolves into a forbidden romance. Hannah highlights, with vivid description, the natural dangers of Alaska juxtaposed against incongruous violence. VERDICT Give to teens who loved the author's The Nightingale and to fans of Jodi Picoult.-Tara Kehoe, Charlotte Mecklenburg -Library, Charlotte, NC © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Hannah (The Nightingale, 2015) takes readers on a journey to Alaska in the 1970s with the Allbright family: damaged Vietnam vet Ernt; his devoted wife, Cora; and their 13-year-old daughter, Leni, the novel's protagonist. Initially unhappy to leave her Seattle home, Leni soon falls in love with the wilds of remote Kaneq. Leni adjusts to the lack of electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing, but her father's increasingly erratic and violent behavior is much harder to endure. Leni finds an escape in her books and her one-room school, where she meets Matthew, the only other kid her age in the area. Matthew becomes Leni's best friend and eventually her first love. But Leni's father's irrational hatred of Matthew's family threatens to keep them apart, and Leni fears her father's uncontrollable rage could be the death of her and her fragile mother. Though smaller in scope than her previous blockbuster, in this tightly focused drama, Hannah vividly evokes the natural beauty and danger of Alaska and paints a compelling portrait of a family in crisis and a community on the brink of change. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: In addition to the draw of Hannah's massive popularity, this dark family adventure will be rolled out with an enormous first print run, extensive media coverage, and a major author tour.--Huntley, Kristine Copyright 2017 Booklist