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The Alaskan Laundry
384 pages; Mariner Books
Nineteen-year-old Tara Marconi can hold her own in a fight with a champion female boxer, a brown bear in the wild and her own father. After the death of her mother, she leaves Philadelphia for Port Anna, Alaska, where she hopes to jump-start a new life. She falls in lust with a native Tlingit man decades her senior and scrapes by working in a hatchery and cannery—ultimately figuring out a way to buy a fishing boat. The long winters and brutal work help Tara come to the understanding that "where you come from braids itself, wildly, into the place you choose to build your life." The relationships portrayed in this debut novel draw you in with their honesty, and Tara is a courageous, vibrant narrator. Though a violent plot twist near the end feels a little gratuitous, Jones' big-hearted, generous prose invite you into the sometimes thrilling, often grueling way of life in this last American wilderness.
— Domenica Ruta