Books, Books, Books with Sue Giustino: Winter 2022

Kristin Hannah

This month’s highlighted author is Kristin Hannah.  Working in various genre, including fiction and historical fiction, her writing style easily brings the reader into the time and location of the story, while simultaneously developing each character’s unique personality. As the stories unfold, and the characters come alive within the specific periods of history, you are taken on a literary journey into their world.

Kristin has written numerous books with varying storylines – I’ve read so many, and have enjoyed them all. Below is a brief synopsis of some of my favorites.

Four Winds is one of my favorite Kristin Hannah novels; experiencing the 1920’s and 30’s from post war relief, into the depression, and the great 1930’s drought of the Midwest. Through this novel the reader practically feels the wind, sand and grit that the families of the Great Plains experienced during this tumultuous time in our history. We journey with Elsa Walcott through the story of her life as she and her family struggles during extraordinarily difficult times; a time of ‘have and have nots’ in our country. Hannahs words immerse readers in the characters’ lives by capturing the feelings, regrets, and hard life changing decisions that needed to be made, along with the unknown consequences of each.

Through her novel The Nightingale, Miss Hannah captures a rarely-seen look at the lives of women in World War II. This captivating story follows the lives of two sisters’, Vianne and Isabelle struggling for survival during German-occupied war-torn France. A beautifully written view into the resilience and durability of women faced with making impossible decisions, while dealing with the occupation of their town and home-all in the name of survival.

Far from War torn France in the 1930’s, The Great Alone brings the reader to the 70’s era of the Vietnam War. A veteran, Ernt Allbright, changed forever by the events of the war, spontaneously decides to take his wife and daughter to the backwoods of Alaska to start anew. The struggles for survival in the remote ‘back woods’ community, along with his ‘ghosts’ creates a story of love and hardship in the Alaskan Frontier. The combination of the unpredictable environment of an Alaskan winter, and Ernt’s fragile mental state makes for a grueling existence for his wife and daughter; torn between their love for him and reality of the situation.

On a lighter side, with Fire Fly Lane and Fly Away Kristin brings us away from Historical Fiction, and back to fiction. Her character development around themes of friendship, coming of age, love, and family is extraordinary.  Readers become engrossed by the engaging and heartfelt dynamics of best friends Kate and Tilly, who are about as opposite as friends can be, navigating the ins-and-outs of their world, from childhood into adulthood.  As Hannah weaves their stories through issues of acceptance and finding one’s place as a child, onto romantic relationships and child rearing, and into the struggles of women working to gain their independence and rightful place in the workplace, the characters remain both dynamic and relatable.

Currently I am reading Magic Hour– a novel about a young girl found in a small town on the edge of the Olympic National Forest in the rugged Pacific Northwest. Dr. Julia Cates is called in to work with the unidentified, terrified child. I’m about ¼ of the way through and eager to delve back into the story to see how it unfolds.

Many of her other novels including Winter Garden and Angel Falls, explore love and commitment within a variety of relationships, including those between families, friends, siblings, and children. Exploring daily life in a way that captures the human spirit, Kristin Hannah’s storytelling skills draw the reader into the life and journey of each character.

Although I’m partial to good historical fiction, as many of her books are, I haven’t found a book by Kristin Hannah that I didn’t enjoy.  Check out all of her books – www.