Alaska. Tough girl from Philly. Deadly fishing jobs. Bring it on.
Title: The Alaskan Laundry
Author: Brendan Jones
Source: Raincoast Books for review
Description from Goodreads:
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.
What I Thought:
I wasn’t sure if I was going to write this review or not.
Generally I don’t like writing reviews about books that I didn’t enjoy. And there have been plenty of books I’ve read in the past couple months I’ve been writing this blog that I didn’t do reviews for. Since writing the review, creating the graphics, taking pictures for Instagram, and formatting everything can take a couple of hours I don’t usually spend that much time on something I didn’t like.
But I felt I should do one for this book because I think there are lots of people that might like it for some of the reasons I disliked it. (Like how some people love Twilight and I just.can’t.even.) Does that make sense? Here we go.
I think the best word to describe this book would be “gritty.” Language, mature themes and some graphic animal dismemberment mean that this book would definitely be more New Adult than Young Adult. It was a bit much for me. This is about half of why I didn’t enjoy it. But if that’s your jam, this book would be great!
Tara is a hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners, rough young woman. She doesn’t make friends easily, but when she does she knows she can rely on them. In the boonies of Alaska this is crucial to survival. However I really didn’t enjoy her as a character. I wished she had been developed more so that there were things about her that I actually liked instead of just admiring her bravado.
I felt like this book was too technical in its fishing terminology for me. When it would start explaining things about bow lines and how to throw the pots into the ocean so you would get the most crabs, I began to skim. It’s authentic terminology because the author himself lives in Alaska, fishing, boxing, and restoring a tugboat. So people who are avid fishers (or looking to learn more about it) would probably love it!
Even though the vocabulary was a bit dry, it was a fascinating look at the fishing industry in Alaska. I’ve never read anything about this before so it was great to learn. One of the side characters is a Native American who teaches Tara about the land, plants, animals, and water. I loved those parts and found them really interesting.
I also really liked the short chapters in the book. It made it less daunting because sometimes I only have time to read two pages before getting juice dumped all over me. Jones created an extremely compelling story that I just had to finish!
Except I really hated the ending. A lot. I can kind of understand why Jones wrote it the way that he did, but I just didn’t like it.
So to sum up:
For me = no.
For you = maybe?
But I guess that’s how all reviews are, eh?
Here’s Brendan Jones’ blog, where you can find other things he’s written, see the tug for yourself, and learn more about Alaska.
So if you’ve read this, what did you think? Or if you haven’t, does it sound like it might appeal to you even if it didn’t to me?
Do you ever struggle writing reviews for books you didn’t enjoy?