The Alaskan Laundry by Brendan Jones is your basic quest story. It’s about a young woman from Philadelphia who is going through some personal struggles, which culminate in a big fight with her father, during which he kicks her out of the house. She decides to get as far away from that situation as possible, and leaves her father (and the family bakery business) and her boyfriend behind when she packs her bag and heads north to Alaska to find herself.
In terms of the story, the main character Tara goes through all kinds of ordeals along the way, meets a bunch of people, and toughens up a lot as she masters various difficult jobs in the commercial fishing industry.
I liked the story and the various oddball characters, but I think what makes this novel successful is the way the author brought remote Alaska to life for me. I felt like I was there, in the hatchery, in the processor and out on the water. I could really visualize the characters and I learned a lot about how the fish we eat get from the ocean to our table. I could feel the lure of the sea, the chance for some fast money in exchange for very hard work, when the fish are in and the season is open.