Hut's Place
 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

February 11, 2018

Year's First Potential Blockbuster Novel Finds Broken Family Fighting To Survive in Alaskan Wilds
The Great Aloneby Kristin Hannah. This new novel has been eagerly anticipated by independent booksellers, many of whom are fans of Hannah's previous work, The Nightingale. That book, a WWII story set in France and featuring two sisters' invo lvement in the war, has been popular with book groups and readers of Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See. This time, Hannah sets her story in Alaska in the 1970s, where a family in crisis faces the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet ano ther job, he makes an impulsive decision to  move his family to Alaska and live off the grid in America's last true frontier. His wife Cora and teenage daughter Leni hope that the move will lead to a better life and future and, at first, Alaska seems to hold promise. In a wild, remote corner of the state, the family finds a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. But the Allbrights are ill-equipped for the harsh and spartan existence that they have inherited, and the approaching winter only exacerbates Ernt's mental problems and familial abuse.

This excerpt from a starred review in Kirkus Reviews is a good example of the praise that The Great Alone is receiving: "There are many great things about this book...It will thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet-like coming of age story and domestic potboiler. She recreates in magical detail the lives of Alaska's homesteaders...and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America. A tour de force.
Life of a Border Patrol Agent is February's #1 Indie Next Pick   
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches From the Border by Francisco Cantú. This engaging  and timely memoir is a detailed account of Cantú's time stationed in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas from 2008 to 2012. He and his fellow agents track migrants who attempt the dangerous border crossing, bringing in the dead and detaining those who make it across alive. But when Cantú, who is the grandson of Mexican immigrants, returns to civilian life after years of patrolling the Southwest's smuggling routes and drug corridors, his good friend José is detained, and the cruelty of current border policy becomes truly real to him for the first time. Here's the Indie Next bookseller review:

"Cantú personalizes the U.S.-Mexican border and all of its complexity in a way I've never seen. His writing is beautiful, with haunting and detailed descriptions of the desert, the immigrants, the cartels, and his own fears about violence and identity confusion. The criminalization of searching for a better life and the dehumanization of the process is looked at from several angles, and his journalistic approach does not make judgments, but clearly tells the facts. A great new writer to follow."
- Pat Marsello, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM

In an interview with Bookselling This Week, Cantú, was asked about his stance on border security and other immigration issues. I found his answer quite interesting:
"To be honest, I didn't write this book because I think that I have some profound solution to our country's border issues. To me, the most important thing right now is that there is an opening to start talking about immigration reform, border security--all of these things. What I think is missing from that conversation is acknowledging this as a huge and nuanced and complex issue, and also acknowledging the actual human cost of the current policy, before we even start to talk about how we're going to change that policy."

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Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

My goal with this newsletter is to keep readers up to date about new books hitting the shelves, share what indie booksellers are recommending in their stores, and pass on occasional news about the book world.

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