Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains
by Kerri Arsenault
Hardcover, 1.2" H x 9.3" L x 6.4" W, 368 pages
What are we willing to tolerate and whose lives are we willing to sacrifice for our own survival? What are the ways that "place" can shape, repel and draw us in? Arsenault sifts through historical archives and her own experience in this atmospheric memoir and searing exposé.
Finalist for the 2020 National Book Critics John Leonard Prize for Best First Book
One of O Magazine's Best Books of Fall 2020
“A powerful, blistering, devastating book. Kerri Arsenault is both a graceful writer and a grieving daughter in search of answers and ultimately, justice.” —Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance
Kerri Arsenault grew up in the rural working class town of Mexico, Maine. For over 100 years the community orbited around a paper mill that employs most townspeople, including three generations of Arsenault’s own family. Years after she moved away, Arsenault realized the price she paid for her seemingly secure childhood. The mill, while providing livelihoods for nearly everyone, also contributed to the destruction of the environment and the decline of the town’s economic, physical, and emotional health in a slow-moving catastrophe, earning the area the nickname “Cancer Valley.”
Mill Town is a personal investigation, where Arsenault sifts through historical archives and scientific reports, talks to family and neighbors, and examines her own childhood to illuminate the rise and collapse of the working-class, the hazards of loving and leaving home, and the ambiguous nature of toxins and disease. Mill Town is a moral wake-up call that asks, Whose lives are we willing to sacrifice for our own survival?
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