The Alaskan Laundry: Book summary and reviews of The Alaskan Laundry by Brendan Jones

The Alaskan Laundry

by Brendan Jones

The Alaskan Laundry by Brendan Jones X
The Alaskan Laundry by Brendan Jones
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2016
    400 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A fresh debut novel about a lost, fierce young woman who moves to Alaska and finds herself through the hard work of fishing, as far as the icy Bering Sea.

Tara Marconi has made her way to "The Rock," a remote island in Alaska governed by the seasons and the demands of the world of commercial fishing. She hasn't felt at home in a long while — her mother's death left her unmoored and created a seemingly insurmountable rift between her and her father. But in the majestic, mysterious, and tough boundary-lands of Alaska she begins to work her way up the fishing ladder — from hatchery assistant all the way to King crabber. She learned discipline from years as a young boxer in Philly, but here she learns anew what it means to work, to connect, and — in buying and fixing up an old tugboat  — how to make a home she knows is her own.

A beautiful evocation of a place that can't help but change us and a testament to the unshakable lure of home, The Alaskan Laundry also offers an unforgettable story of one woman's journey from isolation back to the possibility of love.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The compelling tale of a woman's journey from hopeless anger to genuine empowerment, made richer by its immersion in the world of commercial fishing." - Kirkus

"The depictions of the landscape's harsh beauty and the rugged, damaged characters inhabiting it are well realized; Tara's motivations, however, are not nearly as well developed ... A debut that will leave some readers out in the cold." - Publishers Weekly

"This is a truly towering debut novel. Brendan Jones charts new novelistic territory and sends back moving dispatches from the frontiers of the human heart." - Adam Johnson, author of The Orphan Master's Son

"The Alaskan Laundry plunges the reader into the heart and soul of a unique commercial fishing culture and the story of Tara Marconi, as she struggles for respect, love, inner peace, and a place to call her own. A cinematic tour de force, it offers up an empowering message of hope and resilience." - Nick Jans, author of A Wolf Called Romeo

"A promising debut, true to the core - a novel of grit and redemption." - Deb Vanasse, author of Cold Spell and Out of the Wilderness

"The Alaskan Laundry is a novel of bracing air that gets deep into your lungs." - Will Chancellor, author of A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall

"A fresh voice in contemporary realism arrives on the scene in this coming-of-age novel ... Jones's dynamic love of America's last frontier comes through in spare, gripping prose." - Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

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Reader Reviews

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Ann W. (Cashiers, NC)

The Alaskan Laundry
Brendan Jones' engaging novel is about a girl from Philadelphia, who, at the turning point of childhood into adulthood, decides to leave the mundane and venture into a challenging lifestyle working in a remote fishing village in Alaska. The author writes with a sharp grasp of brutal hard work, relentless cold and wet, and long and lonely days that threaten Tara Marconi's decision. She is doggedly determined to prevail in her battle with harsh Alaskan realities and in her newfound dream of owning an old wooden tugboat to call home. Tara's struggle to persevere, to understand "the grime and sadness of her past," and the possibility of renewing love offers an entertaining and unique reading adventure.

Gary R. (Bolingbrook, IL)

Memories
1980ish I made my way to Seattle with a backpack and some money for a pass on the Alaska maritime ferry.I met up with a boat carpenter from Boston and a carpenter from Montana,all looking for something else.luckily we were able to get a chair under the heat lamps in the back of the boat,we didn't have to duck tape a tent to the deck,and the adventure began. This book really brought back some memories for me,really enjoyed it! The author definitely describes what life is like along this part of Alaska. If you've been there you'll say to yourself "yeah that's it" if you haven't you'll want to go! Get the book,read it and enjoy!

Virginia W. (Chapel Hill, NC)

The Alaskan Laundry
The Alaskan Laundry has crisp, concise prose and short, compact chapters. At times, the storyline is as brutal as the Alaskan landscape and the characters equally as rough and tough as the land itself. The dialogue is blunt yet sporadic and eloquent, nearly poetic phrases leap forth. These were surprising gems and inspired re-reading to ponder their beauty and wisdom.
This is the story of Tara's journey from rejection to acceptance, from weakness to strength; a journey that leads her to find the true meaning of "home".
Brendan Jones is a very skilled and talented author. I would recommend this book for any book club that enjoys a gritty adventure as well as for young adult readers just beginning their own "journey".
I enjoyed this book. It is not a "comfortable" read but one that will stay with the reader for a long time. Enjoy the journey.

Carol N. (San Jose, CA)

Bravo Tara
To experience the ultimate Alaskan adventure has always been at the top of my "bucket list." So needless to say, when BookBrowse gave me an opportunity to be one of its first readers, I jumped at it. This rugged novel immediately transported me to Sitka where I found myself tossed about by nature's waves, wind and weather. Through the pages of this book, I was also introduced to a cast of characters that one can only meet in Alaska; many of which will remain with me in the coming years. This is a straightforward, old-fashioned coming of age story of nineteen-year old Tara Marconi, who struggles to find respect, love, and her inner peace in Alaska. As she battles to reinvent herself, she proves herself to be very much like I imagined Alaska to be – fresh, sensitive, discovering and unforgettable. Tara's story confirmed the struggles one experiences while submersed in Alaska's unique culture of commercial fishing. Strong-willed and capable, the reader watches her obtain her American dream

Lisa G. (Riverwoods, IL)

The Alaskan Laundry
I always feel that if I learn something from a book and also enjoy it, it has done its job. Tara journeyed to Alaska to take a breather from her life in Philadelphia and the family business, not knowing how difficult it would be physically and emotionally. How she survives and the decisions she makes is what the author describes as the Alaskan Laundry, the reason people come to the far reaches of Alaska to figure out what they want out of life, Tara is no exception. The author does an exceptional job describing all facets of the fishing industry as seen through Tara's eyes and those of the people she meets. Through these relationships coupled with a lot of old fashioned grit she survives the Alaskan Laundry. This book is an excellent addition to the genre of strong woman and what they can accomplish.

Sue (rural PA)

"Cold Hands-Warm Hearts"
The Alaskan Laundry is a wonderful read. Read it while sipping a hot drink! The story takes place in Alaska and the author makes you feel as if you are there sharing the cold, fatigue, and fear with the lead character Tara. Tara is a young woman who has run away to Alaska after the death of her mother. She leaves behind a troubled father and a doting but immature boyfriend. In Alaska, Tara meets the many challenges of surviving in a strange and roughneck world. She falls in love with an old boat and works at several risky jobs to make money to buy it. Along the way, she meets many types of characters - both male and female - each of whom has their own reason for being in Alaska. Like Tara, these characters are interestingly complicated. While you suspect how things are going to eventually turn out, there are a few twists and turns that keep this book from being too predictable. Would be a good book group selection. I highly recommend it!

...16 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Brendan Jones

Brendan Jones lives on a tugboat in Alaska and works in commercial fishing. A Stegner Fellow, he received his B.A. and M.A. from Oxford University, where he boxed for the Blues team. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Ploughshares, Popular Woodworking, The Huffington Post, and on NPR.

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