Kristin Hannah writes incredible novels about friendship and family that are emotionally turbulent and evocative. With more than 20 books it might be difficult to know where to start, so here is a list of the best Kristin Hannah books based on hundreds of thousands of readers using Goodreads data.
Who is Kristin Hannah?
Before she became an award-winning and bestselling author, Kristin Hannah was a lawyer. She first picked up a pen to write fiction as a law student when her mother was ill and in the hospital. The two of them wrote a romance novel together, which has never been published.
After that, Hannah went on to become a lawyer, before picking up the pen once more and never looking back. That also isn’t a figurative use of the expression. Hannah writes all of her books by long-hand with pen and paper.
She prefers to write where she can hear waves crashing on the shore, and most of her books take around one year to complete. However, there are exceptions to that standard, such as The Nightingale, which took two years.
Many of her books, including The Nightingale, are up for adaptations, or have already been adapted, such as Firefly Lane. Her writing is much more character-based than plot-driven and this creates incredibly moving novels that readers can become attached too.
As previously mentioned, Hannah has written more than 20 novels. If you would like to learn more about all of her books, you can read this article about all the Kristin Hannah books in order.
Hannah currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and can typically be found working on her next novel.
Best Kristin Hannah Books
Now let’s take a look at the best Kristin Hannah books that you should absolutely have on your reading list. This list has been compiled using Goodreads data to rank which of Kristin Hannah’s books readers think are the best. The list is also organized in descending order to end with the very best Kristin Hannah book.
15. Angel Falls
Starting out our list of the 15 best Kristin Hannah books is a 2000 publication, Angel Falls. This Kristin Hannah novel has a 3.9 average rating on Goodreads with more than 40,000 ratings.
Beloved wife and mother Mikaela Campbell falls into a coma. Now, it is up to her husband, Liam, to hold the family together and care for their grieving, frightened children. Doctors tell him not to expect a recovery, but he believes that love can accomplish what medical science cannot.
Daily he sits at her bedside. He tells her stories of the precious life they have built together, hoping against hope that she will wake up. But then he discovers evidence of his wife’s secret past: A hidden first marriage to movie star Julian True.
Desperate to bring Mikaela back at any cost, Liam knows he must turn to Julian for help. But will that choice cost Liam his wife, his family, and everything he holds dear?
One of Kristin Hannah’s most moving novels, Angel Falls is a poignant and unforgettable portrait of marriage and commitment, of an ordinary man who dares to risk everything in the name of love.
14. The Things We Do for Love
Next, The Things We Do for Love has an average 4.1 rating with nearly 40,000 ratings on Goodreads.
The youngest of three daughters, Angela DeSaria Malone was always “the princess” of the family. She thought she knew how her life would unfold. High School. College. Marriage. Motherhood. That was how it had gone for her sisters, her cousins, her friends.
But it didn’t work out that way for Angie. She and her husband tried desperately to have a child; year after year, their perfectly decorated nursery remained empty. Finally, their marriage collapsed under the weight of lost dreams.
After the divorce, Angie moved back to her hometown and rejoined her loud, loving, slightly crazy family. In West End, a place where life rises and falls in time with the tides, she will find the man who once again will open her heart to love…and meet the girl who will change Angie’s life.
Meanwhile, Lauren Ribido lives in a bad part of town with a mother who cares more about her next drink than about her daughter. At seventeen, Lauren knows that her aspirations in life may never come to pass.
From the moment they meet, Angie sees something special in Lauren. They form a quick connection, this woman who is desperate for a daughter and the girl who has never known a mother’s love. When Lauren is abandoned by her mother, Angie doesn’t hesitate to offer the girl a place to stay.
But nothing could have prepared Angie for the far-reaching repercussions of this act of kindness. In a dramatic turn of events, she and Lauren will be tested in a way that mothers and daughters seldom are. Together they will embark on a moving, emotional journey to the very heart of what it means to be a family.
13. On Mystic Lake
This is another earlier title of Kristin Hannah’s, first published in 1999. On Goodreads it has more than 47,000 ratings with a 3.92 average rating.
Annie Colwater’s only child has just left home for school abroad. On that same day, her husband of twenty years confesses that he’s in love with a younger woman.
Alone in the house that is no longer a home, Annie comes to the painful realization that for years she has been slowly disappearing. Lonely and afraid, she retreats to Mystic, the small Washington town where she grew up. She hopes that there she can reclaim the woman she once was — the woman she is now desperate to become again.
In Mystic, she is reunited with her first love, Nick Delacroix. He is now a recent widower unable to cope with his grieving, too-silent six-year-old daughter, Izzie. Together, the three of them begin to heal, and, at last, Annie learns that she can love without losing herself.
But just when she has found a second chance at happiness, her life is turned upside down again, and Annie must make a choice no woman should have to make…
12. Summer Island
Next is Summer Island, a 2001 novel by Kristin Hannah with a 3.98 average rating from more than 50,000 ratings.
Years ago, Nora Bridge walked out on her marriage and left her daughters behind.
Now she is a famous talk show host. Her daughter Ruby is a struggling comedienne. The two haven’t spoken in more than a decade.
Then a scandal from Nora’s past is exposed, and Ruby is offered a fortune to write a tell-all about her mother.
Reluctantly, she returns to the family house on Summer Island, a home filled with frayed memories of joy and heartache. Confronting a past that includes a never-forgotten love, a sick best friend, and a mother who has harbored terrible family secrets, Ruby finally begins to understand the complex ties that bind a mother and daughter — and the healing that comes with forgiveness.
11. Between Sisters
Nearing the top 10 best Kristin Hannah books is Between Sisters, another earlier title first published in 2003. It has a 4.03 average rating on Goodreads from nearly 68,000 ratings.
We all make mistakes, but for Meghann Dontess the terrible choice she made some years ago cost her everything, including the love of her sister, Claire. Meghann is now a highly successful attorney, and has put all thoughts of love completely behind her. Until she meets the one man who believes he can change her mind.
Claire has fallen in love for the first time in her life, and as her wedding day approaches she prepares to face her strong-willed older sister. Reunited after two decades, these two women who believe they have nothing in common will try to become what they never were: A family.
Tender, funny, bittersweet and moving, Kristin Hannah’s Between Sisters skilfully explores the profound joys and sorrows shared in a close relationship, the mistakes made in the name of love, and the promise of redemption.
10. True Colors
With more than 69,000 ratings True Colors has a 4.0 average rating. This places it tenth on this list of the best Kristin Hannah books. It is another book about sisters and the complicated ties of family.
The Grey sisters have always been close. After their mother’s death, the girls banded together, becoming best friends. Their stern, disapproving father cares less about his children than about his reputation.
To Henry Grey, appearances are everything. Years later, he still demands that his daughters reflect his standing in the community.
Winona, the oldest, needs her father’s approval most of all. An overweight bookworm who never felt at home on the sprawling horse ranch that has been in her family for three generations, she knows that she doesn’t have the qualities her father values. But as the best lawyer in town, she’s determined to someday find a way to prove her worth to him.
Aurora, the middle sister, is the family peacemaker. She brokers every dispute and tries to keep them all happy, even as she hides her own secret pain.
Vivi Ann is the undisputed star of the family. A stunningly beautiful dreamer with a heart as big as the ocean in front of her house, she is adored by all who know her. Everything comes easily for Vivi Ann, until a stranger comes to town…
In a matter of moments, everything will change. The Grey sisters will be pitted against one another in ways that none could have imagined. Loyalties will be tested and secrets revealed, and a terrible, shocking crime will shatter both their family and their beloved town.
With breathtaking pace and penetrating emotional insight, True Colors is an unforgettable novel about sisters, rivalry, forgiveness, redemption — and ultimately, what it means to be a family.
9. Home Front
Next, Home Front has an average rating of 4.17 on Goodreads from more than 83,000 ratings.
All marriages have a breaking point, all families have wounds, and all wars have a cost…
Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life — children, careers, bills, chores — even as their twelve-year marriage is falling apart. Then a deployment sends Jolene deep into harm’s way and leaves defense attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls.
As a mother, it agonizes Jolene to leave her family. But as a solider, she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-colored version of her life on the front lines, shielding her family from the truth.
But war will change Jolene in ways that none of them could have foreseen. When tragedy strikes, Michael must face his darkest fear and fight a battle of his own — for everything that matters to his family.
At once a profoundly honest look at modern marriage and a dramatic exploration of the toll war takes on an ordinary American family, Home Front is a story of love, loss, heroism, honor, and ultimately, hope.
8. Magic Hour
Magic Hour was first published in 2006 and has a 4.15 average star rating on Goodreads from nearly 87,000 ratings.
Dr. Julia Cates was one of the country’s preeminent child psychiatrists until a shocking tragedy ruined her career. Retreating to her small western Washington hometown, Julia meets an extraordinary six-year-old girl who has inexplicably emerged from the deep woods nearby. A child locked in a world of unimaginable fear and isolation.
To Julia, nothing is more important than saving the girl she now calls Alice. But Julia will need help from others, including the sister she barely knows and a handsome doctor with secrets of his own. What follows will test the limits of Julia’s faith and strength, as she struggles to find a home for Alice…and for herself.
7. Fly Away
The next title on our list of the best Kristin Hannah books comes with a massive spoiler warning. Fly Away is the second book in the Firefly Lane series, so this summary will contain spoilers for the first book. Fly Away has more than 92,000 ratings on Goodreads with an average rating of 3.98.
Tully Hart has always been larger than life, a woman fueled by big dreams and driven by memories of a painful past. She thinks she can overcome anything until her best friend, Kate Ryan, dies. Tully tries to fulfill her deathbed promise to Kate — to be there for Kate’s children — but Tully knows nothing about family or motherhood or taking care of people.
Sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan is devastated by her mother’s death. Her father, Johnny, strives to hold the family together. But even with his best efforts, Marah becomes unreachable in her grief. Nothing and no one seems to matter to her…until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world.
Dorothy Hart — the woman who once called herself Cloud — is at the center of Tully’s tragic past. She repeatedly abandoned her daughter, Tully, as a child, but now she comes back, drawn to her daughter’s side at a time when Tully is most alone. At long last, Dorothy must face her darkest fear: Only by revealing the ugly secrets of her past can she hope to become the mother her daughter needs.
A single, tragic choice and a middle-of-the-night phone call will bring these women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way, and they will each need one another — and maybe a miracle — to transform their lives.
6. Night Road
The next title on this list of the best Kristin Hannah books is Night Road. With nearly 130,000 ratings on Goodreads, it has an average rating of 4.21.
Jude Farraday is a happily married, stay-at-home mom who puts everyone’s needs above her own. Her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill enters their lives, no one is more supportive than Jude.
A former foster child with a dark past, Lexi quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable. But senior year of high school brings unexpected dangers and one night, Jude’s worst fears are confirmed: There is an accident.
In an instant, her idyllic life is shattered and her close-knit community is torn apart. People — and Jude — demand justice, and when the finger of blame is pointed, it lands solely on eighteen-year-old Lexi Baill.
In a heartbeat, their love for each other will be shattered, the family broken. Lexi gives up everything that matters to her — the boy she loves, her place in the family, the best friend she ever had — while Jude loses even more.
When Lexi returns, older and wiser, she demands a reckoning. Long buried feelings will rise again, and Jude will finally have to face the woman she has become. She must decide whether to remain broken or try to forgive both Lexi…and herself.
Night Road is a vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, loss, identity, and forgiveness. It is an exquisite, heartbreaking novel that speaks to women everywhere about the things that matter most.
5. Winter Garden
Rounding out the top five best Kristin Hannah books is Winter Garden with nearly 194,000 ratings and an average rating of 4.23 on Goodreads. It is a powerful, heartbreaking novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past.
Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist.
But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night.
On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: The fairy tale will be told one last time — and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya’s life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago.
Alternating between the past and present, Meredith and Nina will finally hear the singular, harrowing story of their mother’s life, and what they learn is a secret so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the very foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.
4. Firefly Lane
Next is an iconic Kristin Hannah title. Firefly Lane has more than 307,000 ratings on Goodreads with an average 4.13 rating.
It begins in the summer of 1974. Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all — beauty, brains, ambition.
On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become inseparable.
From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to receive unconditional love. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success…and loneliness.
Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully.
What she doesn’t know is how her own dreams will change her…how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend…
For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart…and puts their friendship to the ultimate test.
3. The Four Winds
The third best Kristin Hannah book on this list is her most recent publication: The Four Winds in 2021. It already has nearly 410,000 ratings on Goodreads and average rating of 4.31.
Texas, 1934: Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.
In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli — like so many of her neighbors — must make an agonizing choice: Fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life.
The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.
2. The Great Alone
The penultimate best Kristin Hannah book is The Great Alone, another recent publication from 2018. It has nearly 543,000 ratings on Goodreads with an average rating of 4.37.
Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: He will move his family to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.
Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown.
At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.
But as winter approaches and darkness descends, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. In their small cabin, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: They are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.
It is an unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience. Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.
1. The Nightingale
Finally, the best Kristin Hannah book on this list has nearly one million ratings on Goodreads. The Nightingale is a historical novel set in 1939 France with more than 953,000 ratings and a 4.59 average rating.
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says good-bye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent.
When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gaëtan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely.
But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.
The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France — a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women.
15 Best Kristin Hannah Books Wrap-Up
For your ease, here is a wrap-up of the best Kristin Hannah books. The titles on this list stem from some of her earliest available works in the late 1990s and early 2000s, to her most recent publication.
All of Kristin Hannah’s books hit on emotional themes of family, friendship, and love through turmoil and perseverance. Whether you prefer to read contemporary novels or historical, there will be a book on this list you’re sure to enjoy, but it’s recommended you keep the Kleenex handy.
- The Nightingale (2015)
- The Great Alone (2018)
- The Four Winds (2021)
- Firefly Lane (2008)
- Winter Garden (2010)
- Night Road (2011)
- Fly Away (2013)
- Magic Hour (2006)
- Home Front (2012)
- True Colors (2009)
- Between Sisters (2003)
- Summer Island (2001)
- On Mystic Lake (1999)
- The Things We Do for Love (2004)
- Angel Falls (2000)
Looking for more books in order?
Check out this list of 12 books like Where the Crawdads Sing.