Leni Allbright and her mother live at the mercy of her post-Vietnam war father, Ernt, who has serious PTSD. Set in the 1970s, the book follows the family in their move to remote Alaska after Ernt inherits land and a ramshackle cabin. Convinced that Alaska will make everything better, the family sets off posthaste for the northern frontier. Ernt, though, has demons that are impossible to overcome and drinking doesn’t help. He abuses his wife when he’s in a dark mood. Alaska has lots of dark, challenging times with the long, dark winters. That sets him off at even more regular intervals. Leni doesn’t know a different life, but as she grows through her teenage years, she is pretty sure that her family’s lifestyle is not to be emulated. Ernt kicks into survivalist mode with the help of like-minded neighbors in Alaska.
The bright spots of this book are Alaskan neighbor, Large Marge, along with the one room schoolhouse where Leni can escape sure the days. The school, though, is short on other teens as only 3 attend there. Matthew Walker becomes a pal for Leni and eventually ends up as her love interest.
This was a page-turner book with blackness on so many pages. The reader roots for Leni to escape the madness that is her home. Her mother is not blind to the abuse, but she is tangled in the cycles of her husband’s abuse; sure that he really loves them.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing me an ARC for a review in my own words.