River guide Madeline Kruse has always preferred the nomadic life over a settled home. In early 2003, she’s on the run from the long-standing pain of a missing father and critically ill mother trying to save the world. Madeline’s wandering takes her to northeastern Utah, a corner of the West time has passed over, with its stunningly beautiful wilderness, rivers to run, and room to breathe. In the tiny town of Junction, she meets alfalfa farmer Chris Sorensen, whose family has split apart since September 11 and the enlistment of his brother in the U.S. Marines. Through Chris and a drama taking place deep in the Utah backcountry, Madeline learns that the pristine canyons she loves are being threatened, and she must overcome many obstacles if she is to find peace and her place by the river.
Rebecca Lawton was among the first women whitewater guides on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon and on other rivers in the West. Her essay collection on the guiding life, Reading Water: Lessons from the River (Capital Books), was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and ForeWordNature Book of the Year finalist. Her essays, poems, and stories have been published in Orion, Sierra, The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Shenandoah, THEMA, More, and other magazines. She blogs about writing and environmental issues at Writer in Residence. Lawton’s writing about the West has won the Ellen Meloy Fund Award for Desert Writers, three Pushcart Prize nominations (in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry), and other honors. She has received residencies at The Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska, and Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers in Langley, Washington. Her debut novel, Junction, Utah, set in the resource-rich Green River valley, is available as an original e-book from van Haitsma Literary. She works as a writer and scientist and serves on the Board of Directors of Friends of the River.
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Top 10 Reasons to Read Junction, Utah
by Rebecca Lawton
1. It’s a kick-ass love story. Who among us doesn’t love a great romance? When
nomadic Madeline Kruse, a 28-year-old veteran whitewater guide, escapes
from family crises in her native Oregon, she runs straight to the settled farming
community of northeastern Utah. There she meets two twentysomething brothers,
one a farmer tied to the land, the other a U.S. Marine who was called up after 9/
11, and the romance begins. The brothers have their own struggles going on, and
Madeline lands right in the middle of them, as well as in the arms of one of these
amazing men. Readers of all ages will be swept away by this love story.
2. It’s a story of opposites. There’s nothing like conflict to make a story thrilling, and
Junction, Utah, has conflict by the bushel. Whether it’s between Madeline and her
former lover Rick, or between the river guides and the oil companies looking to
explore for drilling sites in wilderness, the conflict in Junction leaps off of every page.
3. It’s based on a true story. Research for Junction was supported by the Ellen Meloy
Fund for Desert Writers. Ellen was a keen observer of the natural world and brooked
no B.S. After winning the award in Ellen’s name, I spent several seasons in the
various settings that made their way into the novel. I was also a whitewater guide
for 14 years and know and love the rivers at the heart of the novel.
4. It’s fun. The character dialogue contains a lot of authentic, fun banter that draws
the reader in. Early feedback on Junction: “once you get to know these characters,
you don’t want to stop reading about them. I was sorry when it ended.”
5. It’s beautiful. Not only has the writing been described as gorgeous, but the land
and rivers are inviting, sensuous, and unforgettable. Reading Junction is like taking a
tour through the West.
6. It’s a page turner. Enough said.
7. It’s educational. I know, I know, educational reads can be boring, but Junction is
decidedly un-boring. What you’ll learn about the desert Southwest will stick with
you, and you’ll find herself caring about not only the places but the overarching
threats to them. But be warned: no one who chooses to read Junction will likely
even be aware that it’s full of learning!
8. It’s at or near the top of several GoodReads lists. For good reason.
9. It’s full of heart. Honestly, Junction isn’t like much modern fiction in which no one
cares about anyone else in the story, so why should the reader care? Rather,
Junction a good, old-fashioned tale of place, family, courage, and love.
10. You’ll want to read it again and again. Early feedback is that the book is that good.
So why not start reading now?