Book Review of
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.”
I read Down City by Leah Carroll for my nonfiction for every state challenge. If you like dysfunctional family stories you will probably enjoy this one. It is all about crime, drugs, alcoholism, and the Mafia in Rhode Island. I enjoyed the book because it gave me a look into a world that I knew very little about. I had no idea the Rhode Island had so many connections to the Mafia and the crime world that comes with it. Down City gives you a raw real life look at what happens to the children when parents get involved in drugs, alcohol, and crime. It is a dark read, but overall a good memoir.
I will say that it was not the best written memoir that I have read. At times it seemed choppy. I also felt like there were probably big chunks of the story left out. That happens a lot because you can only fit so much information into a book. However, this book was not that long, but it would have probably been better if more parts of the story and the author’s life had been shared.