The sun was shining down on Kristin Hannah in the coulee as I was reading The Great Alone and Winter Garden with my Traveling Sisters. I spent a little bit of time lost in very different coulees with these two different stories. One thing that both books definitely have going for them is Kristin Hannah’s ability to write such powerful thought-provoking stories of strong, brave females fighting incredible odds and finding their way.
Both were such great books to read and discuss in a group as both discussions brought out such good insight into our reading experience. Thank you to my TS for getting lost in the most amazing coulees with these two fantastic books.
Home Front is up soon for the Traveling Sisters and I am really looking forward to the discussion for that one.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I started off lost in the dark and cold, heart and soul desolate coulee surrounded by frozen sheets of ice with two of my Traveling Sisters reading The Great Alone. Not wanting to get out as Norma and two more of our TS joined in reading and discussing this one with me. This lead to a very interesting and insightful discussion as we shared our thoughts on this story. As the discussion progressed I started to see things differently and had more of an understanding of the depth of this story. I really love when that happens and one of the reasons I love getting lost in a coulee with my TS.
The Great Alone is an insightful, inspiring and emotional family saga, part coming of age story with a little romance to it that brought out many emotions for us. Our heart raced with anxiety at times and the temperature soared in the coulee as we worried for our young, strong, brave and determined main character, Leni.
Kristin Hannah does such a wonderful job creating a character here with her vivid description of Alaska and the community with these rich, quirky and interesting characters. We could feel their generosity, support, and kindness. Hannah brings insight, magic, and life to Alaska and we could feel the danger of living in such an unforgiving place.
At times we wanted Kristin Hannah to have gone in a different direction here with Ernt’s character and didn’t like the way his PTSD was portrayed, however after our discussion we came to realize that’s not the story she was telling. We felt the story she was telling was of a teenage girl Leni trapped in her parent’s toxic relationship and their obsession with each other. “The twisted love that bound her parents together.”
We all loved the ending but at times thought it was a bit too overdramatic and maybe forced some emotions but we reminded ourselves it is a family saga. We all still ended up in the dark cold coulee feeling warm and rewarded with this story full of emotional depth. We highly recommend.
Thank you, NetGalley, St Martin’s Press and Kristin Hannah for a copy to read and review.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I started off lost in the sculpted brushes and the apple trees of the deep-rooted, lush coulee with one of my Traveling Sisters reading Winter Garden. We spent some time bundled up in blankets as two more of our TS joined in reading and discussing this one with us.
Winter Garden is a well layered, intriguing and powerful family saga that explores the complicated relationships between a Mother and her daughters and the two sisters. The story is told from the past through a fairy tale told by distant, cold and interesting Anya who is layered with mystery and the present as we see how the fairy tale begins to bond these women together.
Kristin Hannah cleverly and skillfully weaves an emotional fairy tale into the storyline that becomes the core of this story and we begin to see how it shaped the relationship between Anya and her daughters. We were drawn into the story through the fairy tale and it became a favorite part of the story for some of us. The imagery in the tale came to life for us and became very real. We felt many emotions as our hearts broke for the characters. Through the fairy tale, we come to know who the characters are. Brilliant!
We all really loved the discussion we had for this one and we really dug deep into the emotional depth of this story and how it made us feel. We used some discussion questions that really enhanced our discussion. It’s stories and discussions like this that really bring out the best reading experiences for me.
The ending pushed this non-crier to choke up and fighting back the tears. I will leave you all with this quote from the story and we all highly recommend reading Kristin Hannah at her best with this one.
“Joy and sadness were part of the package, the trick, perhaps was to not let yourself feel all of it but to hold on to the joy just a little more tightly because you never knew when a strong heart could just give out.”
Reviews by Brenda