Nolan Jackson is a journeyman carpenter by trade and a wanderer by nature. And in 2007, while fellow Americans fight in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Nolan roams, traveling between jobs building tract homes across the West. Following a shocking workplace accident in Las Vegas, he uproots himself from the tentative relationships he has made and heads toward the ocean.
On his way he passes through his brother’s town where circumstances cost him his trailer and tools, forcing him to stay put. Unable to build houses, Nolan turns to building a meaningful life.
Questions about Western-film notions of masculinity are woven throughout the novel; from the damage to Nolan’s family by the Vietnam War in which his father fought, to the ubiquity and consequence of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to slow unraveling of his brother’s marriage and mental state, to the mysterious rash of arson in their small town.
Ultimately, Journeyman is a timely, and tightly wound novel about dwelling, building, belonging, love, and men and brothers finding the value of a place to call home in the modern West.