1. Leni and her family had a fresh start in Alaska. Given the challenging landscape, do you think that they were going to survive in that harsh climate? Who do you think would be able to handle it, and what survival skills or kind of person do you think would be most adaptable to survive? Is Leni or Cora a survivor?
2. The novel is set in the 1970s America. Why do you think author Hannah chose that period? How do the political and social factors mould the story line?
3. Alaska is written like a character in the novel. How does the landscape help with the story? Do you think if it was set somewhere else that the story would be just as effective?
4. Leni’s dad Ernt wants to build a wall to stop outsiders from coming in. Marge suggests that the wall will also mean that it stop Leni and Cora from getting out. What do you think about the wall and Ernt’s behavior? Is his behavior rational?
5. As Ernt was building the wall, what did you think was going to happen? Did you think someone was going to die? Who did you want it to be?
6. What similarities do you see in The Great Alone and today’s socio-economic problems? Do the 70s and present day have similar problems? What does the novel suggest about leaving civilization and living in the wilderness?
7. The Great Alone contained many themes such as love, friendship, marriage, survival, domestic abuse etc. Which theme impacted you the most? How do you think the author handled these themes?
8. What role does Marge play in the novel? How does Marge help the Allbrights, especially Leni and Cora? Discuss what it means to in a community in Alaska.
9. How does Leni and Cora’s relationship change over the years? Was their relationship stronger or weaker?
10. Ernt was a Vietnam vet and was a prisoner of war for many years. Do you believe that his war experience changed him as Cora did? Or do you think that he was always the person violent he was? Does knowing that he had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder make his behavior forgivable?
11. Cora took a lot of abuse from Ernt. Why do you think she stayed with Ernt for such a long time? Did she love him?
12. Leni is in the cross-hairs of her parents abusive relationship. How much do you think her personality is shaped by this toxic environment?
13. How does falling in love change the way Leni behaves? Why is Leni willing to take so many risk given that she knows the consequences?
14. The depths Leni and Cora’s relationship is revealed in a heart-wrenching part when her mother saves her. Do you think Cora was a good mother? How do you feel about Cora at the end? Would you do the same for your daughter/child?
15. Which part of the novel surprised you? Did the book make you cry?
16. Did you enjoy the book and who would you pass this book onto?
Enhance your book club:
Check out the Study Guide for Book Clubs: The Great Alone. This discussion aid contains a plot synopsis, analyses of characters and themes.
See the landscapes in the visual tour of Alaska in this national geographic book.