Debut novelist Jones draws on his real-life experience living and working on an Alaskan tugboat to craft the tale of Tara Marconi, a Philadelphia woman who runs away from the depression and anger that have taken over her life.
Desperate for a change, Tara leaves boxing, her family bakery, a deceased mother, a rage-filled father, and a boyfriend with hurt feelings for a foreign landscape where the men come with guns and questionable senses of humor. She arrives with anger "hot in her chest" and feels, "at the far end of the flame's heat, something new. Quieter, reassuring." She's committed to working for one year at a hatchery on Archangel Island, Alaska, also known as "The Rock" because that's what it is—a 15-by-50-mile stretch of rock that reeks of dead fish. After a late start on her first day and learning that her training as a boxer is no preparation for the hard work she's taken on, Tara starts to feel confident and comfortable in her new environment—so much so that a tugboat for sale catches her eye. Once the first year at The Rock passes successfully, it's clear that Tara is not ready to leave Alaska. By allowing herself to be vulnerable, she builds and rebuilds relationships, setting herself up to heal past wounds. The novel is a long collection of short chapters, which amplifies the step-by-step nature of Tara's hard-earned personal and professional accomplishments.
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.