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Down City: A Daughter's Story of Love, Memory, and Murder

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Like James Ellroy's, My Dark Places, DOWN CITY is a gripping narrative built of memory and reportage, and Leah Carroll's portrait of Rhode Island is sure to take a place next Mary Karr's portrayal of her childhood in East Texas and David Simon's gritty Baltimore. Leah Carroll's mother, a gifted amateur photographer, was murdered by two drug dealers with Mafia connections w Like James Ellroy's, My Dark Places, DOWN CITY is a gripping narrative built of memory and reportage, and Leah Carroll's portrait of Rhode Island is sure to take a place next Mary Karr's portrayal of her childhood in East Texas and David Simon's gritty Baltimore. Leah Carroll's mother, a gifted amateur photographer, was murdered by two drug dealers with Mafia connections when Leah was four years old. Her father, a charming alcoholic who hurtled between depression and mania, was dead by the time she was eighteen. Why did her mother have to die? Why did the man who killed her receive such a light sentence? What darkness did Leah inherit from her parents? Leah was left to put together her own future and, now in her memoir, she explores the mystery of her parents' lives, through interviews, photos, and police records. DOWN CITY is a raw, wrenching memoir of a broken family and an indelible portrait of Rhode Island- a tiny state where the ghosts of mafia kingpins live alongside the feisty, stubborn people working hard just to get by. Heartbreaking, and mesmerizing, it's the story of a resilient young woman's determination to discover the truth about a mother she never knew and the deeply troubled father who raised her--a man who was, Leah writes, "both my greatest champion and biggest obstacle."


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Like James Ellroy's, My Dark Places, DOWN CITY is a gripping narrative built of memory and reportage, and Leah Carroll's portrait of Rhode Island is sure to take a place next Mary Karr's portrayal of her childhood in East Texas and David Simon's gritty Baltimore. Leah Carroll's mother, a gifted amateur photographer, was murdered by two drug dealers with Mafia connections w Like James Ellroy's, My Dark Places, DOWN CITY is a gripping narrative built of memory and reportage, and Leah Carroll's portrait of Rhode Island is sure to take a place next Mary Karr's portrayal of her childhood in East Texas and David Simon's gritty Baltimore. Leah Carroll's mother, a gifted amateur photographer, was murdered by two drug dealers with Mafia connections when Leah was four years old. Her father, a charming alcoholic who hurtled between depression and mania, was dead by the time she was eighteen. Why did her mother have to die? Why did the man who killed her receive such a light sentence? What darkness did Leah inherit from her parents? Leah was left to put together her own future and, now in her memoir, she explores the mystery of her parents' lives, through interviews, photos, and police records. DOWN CITY is a raw, wrenching memoir of a broken family and an indelible portrait of Rhode Island- a tiny state where the ghosts of mafia kingpins live alongside the feisty, stubborn people working hard just to get by. Heartbreaking, and mesmerizing, it's the story of a resilient young woman's determination to discover the truth about a mother she never knew and the deeply troubled father who raised her--a man who was, Leah writes, "both my greatest champion and biggest obstacle."

30 review for Down City: A Daughter's Story of Love, Memory, and Murder

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    This is one of those books that comes along and keeps you riveted. Like, sneaking-away-to-the-bathroom-at-work-so-you-can-read riveted. (I admit nothing.) There's so much Carroll leaves unsaid, so much behind what she does say, and yet her writing is totally casual and conversational, like a stranger in a bar. You know how that is? You meet someone, and the alcohol and the darkness of the place lends more intimacy than you have any right to expect, and she regales you with the awful murder of he This is one of those books that comes along and keeps you riveted. Like, sneaking-away-to-the-bathroom-at-work-so-you-can-read riveted. (I admit nothing.) There's so much Carroll leaves unsaid, so much behind what she does say, and yet her writing is totally casual and conversational, like a stranger in a bar. You know how that is? You meet someone, and the alcohol and the darkness of the place lends more intimacy than you have any right to expect, and she regales you with the awful murder of her mother. She writes about her mother, Joan, raking her memories of anything she can remember about her before the murder--and she writes about the effect that the murder had on her life and her relationship with her father. But mostly, she writes about her father--how he failed her and how he didn't, how she failed him (even though she was a kid and I think she can cut herself a break. The good kind of break). She encapsulates the way tragedy breaks people, or at least the way it bends them until they're so twisted they might as well break, the way it robs them of the ability to say all the things they might have otherwise been able to express. The way they forever look askance at the raw emotions tragedy leaves behind, as if emotions have become some monster too horrifying to behold. The way it forces them to chart some new, dark and dangerous course they don't want, like ship captains whose maps blew away in a storm. She made it through. You hope she's healed, and you hope you can do the same for yourself.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    The loss of a parent for a young child is tragic enough, when that parent was a victim of a violent crime and senseless murder, the family dynamic is so darkly and permanently altered in the most profound ways. In “Down City: A Daughter’s Story of Love, Memory, and Murder” Leah Carroll recalls the murder of her mother in a Providence R.I. motel on October 18, 1984. In a terrible and cruel twist of fate, her father would perish at the same location on December 28, 1998, he was 48. Leah's parents, The loss of a parent for a young child is tragic enough, when that parent was a victim of a violent crime and senseless murder, the family dynamic is so darkly and permanently altered in the most profound ways. In “Down City: A Daughter’s Story of Love, Memory, and Murder” Leah Carroll recalls the murder of her mother in a Providence R.I. motel on October 18, 1984. In a terrible and cruel twist of fate, her father would perish at the same location on December 28, 1998, he was 48. Leah's parents, Kevin and Joan Carroll, both photographers left behind many photos of their lives together. As was the custom in the 1970’s, they married young, her father had served a tour in Vietnam. Likely to satisfy her family, Kevin converted to Judaism. Leah and her mother were living with her maternal grandparents at the time of her mother’s death, her parents had separated. It was very difficult to come-of-age under the mysterious shadow of the “bad men” that took her mother’s life, and to live in the silence surrounding the glare of mental illness, and the shame of terrible truths related drug and alcohol addiction. Discovering a love of literature from her parents, both were very intelligent well read. In 1994, Leah was in the 8th grade reading dystopian literature, her baby sister Taylor was crawling, her father and stepmother Ann-Marie would later divorce. Leah wrote about culture, clothes, and the music scene, how the suicide of Kurt Cobain impacted her and her friends. On September 15, 1987, Michael P. Metcalf was found bleeding and unconscious in an apparent freak bicycle accident in Westport, MA. The Metcalf’s were a prominent Providence R.I. family, and founded the Providence Journal and Evening Bulletin and owned other business that employed hundreds of Rhode Islanders. Metcalf’s death a week after the alleged accident marked the end of an era with the decline of print journalism. Shareholders voted 6 months following Metcalf’s death to sell holdings to Belo Inc. of Dallas, TX. After decades of working at the Journal, her father’s position was eventually downsized and cut. The journal is only a small fraction of what it once was. Though few face such a heartbreaking double loss, Carroll writes exceptionally well of her parents life and memory. Carroll’s account of true crime in the state of Rhode Island was very well done, highlighting government corruption of local and state officials, including the connections of the powerful Patriarca organized crime family. Despite her father’s heavy drinking and failing health, he took her to the Holocaust Museum and the Vietnam Memorial Wall, though Leah was never comfortable living with him after she was kicked out of her step-mother’s home, she eventually realized how much he had truly loved her, and this brought her peace. Leah Carroll was educated at Emerson College, completed her MFA in fiction at the University of Florida, and lives in Brooklyn, NY. ~With thanks to the Seattle Public Library.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Leah tells her tale. It's autobiographical until the age of 32. Most of her years until adulthood were lived within or near to Providence, Rhode Island. It's as the title infers. She's descriptive and filled with direct voice and solid opinion. You can absolutely tell that there was hardly a time at all when she would be "easy to fool". And she wasn't. In some ways it is a tribute or a memory survey of/to her parents and other extended family members who played parental roles for her first 20 yea Leah tells her tale. It's autobiographical until the age of 32. Most of her years until adulthood were lived within or near to Providence, Rhode Island. It's as the title infers. She's descriptive and filled with direct voice and solid opinion. You can absolutely tell that there was hardly a time at all when she would be "easy to fool". And she wasn't. In some ways it is a tribute or a memory survey of/to her parents and other extended family members who played parental roles for her first 20 years. Both parents were addicts and her mother was killed when she was 4 when she partied for/with her cocaine suppliers. It contains the outcomes for the murderers, their "boss" and eventually some of her own beliefs now. It was sad and at the same time as much as she is a good writer, especially of her youngest years- you really can't grab the true Leah from this story. Just my opinion, especially that last 50 pages with her Dad's end years as the crux, she rather lets herself "off the hook". But she most probably knows best. The photos made it almost a 4.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I was reading the last twenty pages, while wiping tears away from my eyes. This is a brave and thoughtful book -- an elegy really. I grew up in nearby Massachusetts, so many of the settings are familiar to me. What is also familiar to me is the underlying sense of struggle that goes along with being working class in that neck of the woods. "Down City" is a heartbreaking and yet a simultaneously loving tribute to Leah Carroll's parents and their lives. I was reading the last twenty pages, while wiping tears away from my eyes. This is a brave and thoughtful book -- an elegy really. I grew up in nearby Massachusetts, so many of the settings are familiar to me. What is also familiar to me is the underlying sense of struggle that goes along with being working class in that neck of the woods. "Down City" is a heartbreaking and yet a simultaneously loving tribute to Leah Carroll's parents and their lives.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brianna

    This review is somewhat subjective because the author is related. But personal feelings aside, I am left feeling impacted by the lives described of Leah's parents. The raw material of this book is beautifully spun together with Leah's perspective of her parents at the center that then branches out into 1) The truth of what happened to Joan and Kevin, 2) her life outside of her parents, with a new mother and family and friends, trying to navigate being a teenager and finding her identity 3) the h This review is somewhat subjective because the author is related. But personal feelings aside, I am left feeling impacted by the lives described of Leah's parents. The raw material of this book is beautifully spun together with Leah's perspective of her parents at the center that then branches out into 1) The truth of what happened to Joan and Kevin, 2) her life outside of her parents, with a new mother and family and friends, trying to navigate being a teenager and finding her identity 3) the historical significance of the rise and fall of crime and industry in a fascinating state like Rhode Island. Leah's style of writing is curious and engaging; she shares a glimpse into the story and then draws you in deeper, later revealing the whole truth. She describes Rhode Island, Kevin, Joan, and herself all with the same dichotomy of love and hate...of unparalleled charm and intelligence and also of the unattractive realities of their actions and their time spent with her.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Down City is a powerful, heart wrenching memoir of a daughter's telling of the murder of her mother and of her father's battle over depression and alcoholism. While the memoir deals with disturbing subject matter, in the end, the love of the author toward her parents is uplifting and moving. Leah Carroll's writing is warm and compelling. Her descriptions of her life and of her parents are honest and she does not appear to shy away from troubling aspects of their lives, nor cosmetically try to gl Down City is a powerful, heart wrenching memoir of a daughter's telling of the murder of her mother and of her father's battle over depression and alcoholism. While the memoir deals with disturbing subject matter, in the end, the love of the author toward her parents is uplifting and moving. Leah Carroll's writing is warm and compelling. Her descriptions of her life and of her parents are honest and she does not appear to shy away from troubling aspects of their lives, nor cosmetically try to gloss over them, nor does she try to justify any of the lifestyle choices of those involved, or lay blame for the ways they lived. The anger and disgust one feels toward people portrayed in this book is deservedly directed at those who's behavior allow them to treat some people as throwaways because of the life that is led. Carroll in her writing makes it known that her parents are worth remembering and people should not be forgotten. Highly recommended.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I pre-ordered this book because the author is a childhood friend. I stayed up all night reading it because it is beautiful and raw and incredible. It is written from memories and research that jump back and forth through time without feeling jerky. It unflinchingly addresses the loss of both the author's parent, each tragic, but at very different times in her life. It includes fascinating and unbelievable details about Rhode Island law enforcement, politics, and crime that she both lived and lea I pre-ordered this book because the author is a childhood friend. I stayed up all night reading it because it is beautiful and raw and incredible. It is written from memories and research that jump back and forth through time without feeling jerky. It unflinchingly addresses the loss of both the author's parent, each tragic, but at very different times in her life. It includes fascinating and unbelievable details about Rhode Island law enforcement, politics, and crime that she both lived and learned later when writing this book. If you appreciate memoirs, or true crime books, or just really excellent writing, I wholeheartedly recommend Down City.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Riva Sciuto

    "Come on you rat, give me the death rattle!" Those were the last words Leah Carroll's mother heard before she was brutally murdered in a hotel room on October 18, 1984. Leah was only four years old. Fourteen years later, in another dark hotel room, Leah's father died -- of "an enlarged heart and a "diseased liver," leaving behind a devastating suicide note and the shattered pieces of an unfinished life. This memoir is Leah's attempt to make sense of it all. But it's so much more than a memoir. I "Come on you rat, give me the death rattle!" Those were the last words Leah Carroll's mother heard before she was brutally murdered in a hotel room on October 18, 1984. Leah was only four years old. Fourteen years later, in another dark hotel room, Leah's father died -- of "an enlarged heart and a "diseased liver," leaving behind a devastating suicide note and the shattered pieces of an unfinished life. This memoir is Leah's attempt to make sense of it all. But it's so much more than a memoir. It's a history of organized crime in the state of Rhode Island. It's an all-too-real account of drug addiction and its ability to destroy a family. And it's one woman's journey to uncover the truth about her mother's murder and the final days of her father's life. "Who were these people, my parents?" she asks. "And how did they come to this place?" Her journey is a heartbreaking one, full of discoveries that reveal the depths of her parents' suffering -- of her mother's drug addiction and her father's alcoholism. But this, after all, was their story. And so it is hers as well. In telling their story, she weaves in the history of Providence, Rhode Island, the "Down City" in which she spent the first part of her childhood. She contextualizes the backdrop of her life, revealing the "kingdom of ugliness" that ruled over Rhode Island's drug users -- one to which her mother fell victim -- and citing the "criminal exploits and entrenched governmental corruption" that are "hallmarks of this tiny state." Part memoirist, part reporter, Leah Carroll brings light to the tragic violence and corruption with which far too many people are familiar. But beneath a history of organized crime and violent murder is a tender, albeit complicated, story of a girl longing to know her parents. To find proof that they lived. Of her mother, whom she struggles to remember, she writes, "I try to conjure an image of what it had been like being a child of an addict mother. But really, I remember brief and benign glimpses of my mom. Her silhouette in the open door, her hanging strips of film from the shower rod, her brushing back my sweaty hair when I must've had a fever. I can't really see her in any of these memories; there's just the sense that she's there." As she grapples with her mother's memory, she simultaneously struggles to foster a healthy relationship with her alcoholic father. But it is caustic too much of the time, leaving her with no choice but to distance herself from his volatile outbursts. Reflecting on the last time she saw him, she recalls the "invisible barrier, years of so much unsaid blocking the way between us." This book is Leah Carroll's effort to break down some of those "invisible barriers" that existed in her life for far too long -- the barriers between her and her parents, between the lies she was told about them and the truths that made up their very complicated lives. Her memoir is a reminder that people -- even our parents -- are complex. And maybe that doesn't make them bad. For even those with extraordinary shortcomings can possess qualities so beautiful their children still memorialize them years after they're gone. Four stars!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    Thoughtfully written with kindness and empathy shown toward her very flawed parents. Leah Carroll wasn't overly self-pitying but instead she presented all she knew and what she learned to come out on the other side shakily prevailing. Thoughtfully written with kindness and empathy shown toward her very flawed parents. Leah Carroll wasn't overly self-pitying but instead she presented all she knew and what she learned to come out on the other side shakily prevailing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amelia Harnish

    This is a gripping and tragic story you won’t be able to stop thinking about. It’s also a beautifully spun memoir . You will laugh and cry... especially if you have a complicated relationship with your dad. I wish I could read it for the first time again.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pattie

    Down City is a memoir of sorts told in vignettes. It tells the story of the author's childhood to adulthood revolving around her mother's murder during a drug run when she was four and her father's death when she was 18, directly related to his alcoholism and depression. Leah Carroll was forced to live a life without filters, dealing directly with the horrors and lack of discipline that comes with people in your life being caught up in such activities and struggling with demons. For the most par Down City is a memoir of sorts told in vignettes. It tells the story of the author's childhood to adulthood revolving around her mother's murder during a drug run when she was four and her father's death when she was 18, directly related to his alcoholism and depression. Leah Carroll was forced to live a life without filters, dealing directly with the horrors and lack of discipline that comes with people in your life being caught up in such activities and struggling with demons. For the most part, she handles everything in stride and the memoir has a stripped down feel. I did find some parts were filler and there were times, as a writer, when she pulled back if emotions were likely to become overwhelming. Overall this was a solid read and much credit goes to her for not following the path that was laid out before her by her parents.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    What a beautiful, heart-wrenching and evocative book. Leah Carroll's DOWN CITY is not only one of the best true crime memoirs I've read, but one of the best memoirs - full stop. Touching, tragic and honest, the story of how Leah's parents died - separately, years apart - is tough to read but important, and a lesson for all those that write off addiction as something that can be controlled. Using Providence, RI as a backdrop, along with the criminal underworld that permeates the state, Leah manag What a beautiful, heart-wrenching and evocative book. Leah Carroll's DOWN CITY is not only one of the best true crime memoirs I've read, but one of the best memoirs - full stop. Touching, tragic and honest, the story of how Leah's parents died - separately, years apart - is tough to read but important, and a lesson for all those that write off addiction as something that can be controlled. Using Providence, RI as a backdrop, along with the criminal underworld that permeates the state, Leah manages to craft a book that's both personal and still zooms out, showing how her parents fit into a much bigger, more complex puzzle that has yet to be solved. Highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    BOOK BOOKS

    WHAT IT THE LAST BOOK YOU LIKED? I READ DOWN CITY BY LEAH CARROLL YESTERDAY AND IT WAS INCREDIBLY DEPRESSING AND MADE ME CRY FOR A WHILE ABOUT MY DAD FEELINGS. WELL-WRITTEN, THOUGH.

  14. 5 out of 5

    shannon

    I feel like I will need several days to recover, as much of this book resonated with me and my own father. Down to him being called a Kenny Rodgers looking motherfucker.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    An excellent, often gut-punching and moving memoir of a Rhode Island childhood/teenagehood spent in, not chaos exactly (it's not quite Glass Castle, say), but in definitely pain and uncertainty. Without a safety net. A series of abandonments via death and emotional circumstance that leaves author Leah Carroll, who is now married and lives in Brooklyn, in a perpetual state of fear and confusion, manifesting itself as self-destruction and rebellion. That all makes this smart, propulsive story soun An excellent, often gut-punching and moving memoir of a Rhode Island childhood/teenagehood spent in, not chaos exactly (it's not quite Glass Castle, say), but in definitely pain and uncertainty. Without a safety net. A series of abandonments via death and emotional circumstance that leaves author Leah Carroll, who is now married and lives in Brooklyn, in a perpetual state of fear and confusion, manifesting itself as self-destruction and rebellion. That all makes this smart, propulsive story sound more moody and introspective than it is, but those are the core emotions (in my reading) behind the tale. Anyway. The author's mom, a junkie who shot cocaine, was murdered when Leah was four, though technically she was a missing person for months until the body was found tossed in the scrub by I95. The author's father, an active alcoholic who worked at the Providence Journal, was charming and effusive and loving to Leah, but also unsurprisingly unreliable and prone to depression. He died of liver failure when Leah was 18. Down City is part Leah's investigation into her mother's murder (the Rhode Island mob is involved), part reckoning with the wreckage of her father's disease (she ADORED him), part trying to understand how the past shapes us, and how we can and must forgive ourselves, and the people we love. Carroll is a terrific storyteller and scene-setter (seedy, corrupt Providence is particularly well drawn), and I really loved this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    This was promoted as a true crime book but, thankfully for my tastes, it really is more of a memoir. I really enjoyed it. The author, who lost one parent to murder when she was four and another to alcoholism when she was eighteen, recounts her young life and reconstructs the lives and deaths of her parents. It was particularly interesting to me, because it takes place in Rhode Island and is very rich in Rhode Island specifics, especially Providence and Barrington.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Noelle

    The author tells the story of her addict mother's murder and her father's struggle with and death from alcoholism. It was uplifting to see her rise above her past and all the strikes she had against her. I enjoyed her writing style & look forward to other books she authors. The author tells the story of her addict mother's murder and her father's struggle with and death from alcoholism. It was uplifting to see her rise above her past and all the strikes she had against her. I enjoyed her writing style & look forward to other books she authors.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Leah Carroll's memoir of her mother's gruesome murder in 1984 - when she was just 4 years old - is one of the most beautifully haunting reads ever. The effects on her upbringing, her relationships especially with her alcoholic father, and discovering her mother, love and disillusions, heartaches make it a very personal compelling story. It was a slow read due to work, but I am glad I did as this way I could absorb its beauty slowly. Leah Carroll's memoir of her mother's gruesome murder in 1984 - when she was just 4 years old - is one of the most beautifully haunting reads ever. The effects on her upbringing, her relationships especially with her alcoholic father, and discovering her mother, love and disillusions, heartaches make it a very personal compelling story. It was a slow read due to work, but I am glad I did as this way I could absorb its beauty slowly.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jay Lauf

    A truly moving memoir and portrait of a childhood. It reminded me in some ways of Mona Simpson’s “Anywhere But Here”. Leah’s relationship with her father is fraught and lovely and messy, but relatable. Her writing evokes a time and place with vivid clarity; and a young girl’s emotions with equal sharpness. I couldn’t put it down.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Olga Vannucci

    Providence is such A pretty city, And yet there's much That's pretty gritty. Providence is such A pretty city, And yet there's much That's pretty gritty.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Mandeville

    What a well-written Memoir. This girl has had it rough but overcame it all. Its a heart-breaking story but one you can't put down. What a well-written Memoir. This girl has had it rough but overcame it all. Its a heart-breaking story but one you can't put down.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    state non fiction rec for Rhode Island

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Allison

    4.5 stars! This book is excellent!!! I couldn’t put it down. Heartbreaking story about a sweet woman, that can’t catch a break. I read it in two sittings. Would definitely recommend.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    It was emotional and full of love. I cried.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    A moving and memorable memoir of family focusing on the author's parents, both of whom died before their time - her mother, Joan, murdered in a motel when Leah was four years old, and her father, Kevin, dead from alcoholism at 48 when Leah was just 18. Given how young Carroll was when her mother died there is less of a focus on her death and the true crime element of the book takes a backseat, while the bulk of the story is spent cataloguing her often strained (but ultimately caring and loving) A moving and memorable memoir of family focusing on the author's parents, both of whom died before their time - her mother, Joan, murdered in a motel when Leah was four years old, and her father, Kevin, dead from alcoholism at 48 when Leah was just 18. Given how young Carroll was when her mother died there is less of a focus on her death and the true crime element of the book takes a backseat, while the bulk of the story is spent cataloguing her often strained (but ultimately caring and loving) relationship with her father who also suffered from depression, all set to the backdrop of trying to find oneself in 90s Rhode Island. Raw and introspective (in a good way!), Leah's story is one that has stayed with me in the weeks since I finished reading Down City.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    I was one of the lucky winners of this giveaway! I was surprised at how quickly i received it on my doorstep ! :) Please read this book! This story breaks my heart, yet it is so compelling and the author writes her memoir so beautifully.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amy Morgan

    Thank you netgalley for my review copy of this book. Leah Carroll tells the story of her mother who was murdered when she was 4 and her father who died when she was 18 as a result of depression and alcoholism. Powerful and heartbreaking in so many ways but so beautifully written. She writes about how she feels her father failed her but how she also failed him even though as a child she could nof hope to save him from his own demons. She writes how her mother never became a real person that was s Thank you netgalley for my review copy of this book. Leah Carroll tells the story of her mother who was murdered when she was 4 and her father who died when she was 18 as a result of depression and alcoholism. Powerful and heartbreaking in so many ways but so beautifully written. She writes about how she feels her father failed her but how she also failed him even though as a child she could nof hope to save him from his own demons. She writes how her mother never became a real person that was so much more than what she realized until she started writing this book. She writes of her tragedies with such beauty and insight and you can't help but feel drawn to her story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    What an amazing book- heartfelt, direct, and incredibly well-written. Do yourselves a favor and read it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    A fascinating memoir about Providence.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    It took me a little while to get into this memoir that begins with the disturbing description of the murder of the author's mother at the hands of her drug dealers. Perhaps the shocking details of the murder colored my reading of the scenes of domestic life of her parents that followed. But I think the main reason is that since the author is only four years old when her mother is killed, the few actual memories she has are pieced together with facts and stories providing some emotional distance It took me a little while to get into this memoir that begins with the disturbing description of the murder of the author's mother at the hands of her drug dealers. Perhaps the shocking details of the murder colored my reading of the scenes of domestic life of her parents that followed. But I think the main reason is that since the author is only four years old when her mother is killed, the few actual memories she has are pieced together with facts and stories providing some emotional distance from the material. It didn't take long, however, for the book to draw me in completely. While her mother continues to cast a shadow over her life, it is the complex relationship between the author and her father that is the real heart of the book. A charming, lovable alcoholic, her dad will be found dead in a seedy motel room when she is eighteen. As heartbreaking and disturbing as this is, it's also an uplifting memoir of survival and love.

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