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Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains



by
Kerri Arsenault

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Macmillan
Imprint
St. Martin's Press (Adult)
ISBN
9781250155931
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Language: Strong Language , Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: Reference or Discussion , Discrimination: Gender Identity
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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 that 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, moral, and emotional health in a slow-moving catastrophe, earning the area the nickname “Cancer Valley.”

Mill Town is an investigative memoir, as Arsenault undertakes an excavation of a collective past, sifting through historical archives and scientific reports, talking to family and neighbors, and examining her own childhood to present a portrait of a community that illuminates not only the ruin of her hometown and the collapse of the working-class of America, but also the hazards of both living in and leaving home, and the ambiguous nature of toxics and disease. In exquisite prose, Arsenault explores the corruption of bodies: the human body, bodies of water, and governmental bodies, and what it’s like to come from a place you love but which doesn’t always love you back.Chapter notes. Black-and-white photographs.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Language: Strong Language , Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: Reference or Discussion , Discrimination: Gender Identity

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

368

Trim Size

9 3/10" x 6"

Dewey

B

AR

0: points 0

Genre

Nonfic

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Jan 2021

Book Genres

Narrative Nonfiction

Topics

Kerri Arsenault. Rumford Mill. Working class. Mexico, Maine. Paper industry. Pollution. Androscoggin River.

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

The Horn Book

Asenault's compelling debut asks readers to consider how relationships between humans and nature impact our bodies and the environment. In her hometown of Mexico, ME, is a paper mill that employed many of the community's residents, including three generations of her family. Although the mill brought economic stability to the area, it wreaked havoc on the surrounding lands and waters. Owing to the high number of cancers and rare physical ailments, the town was dubbed "Cancer Valley." In this powerful memoir, Arsenault dredges up the town's history, interviews locals and family members, and pores over environmental reports to present the multifaceted issues facing the town, including a diminished working class, environmental destruction, and corporate corruption and greed. Included are stories about her father going on strike twice, and the negotiations that resulted. She also explores the mill for herself in order to begin learning about what life was like for machinists. Her research rounds out the story of her family, who like many families in the area, had lives intertwined with the mill and are now facing a reckoning. VERDICT This story will resonate with readers grappling with similar crises in their hometowns and is a recommended addition to memoir collections.-Mattie Cook, Flat River Community Lib., MI

Praise & Reviews

The Horn Book

Asenault's compelling debut asks readers to consider how relationships between humans and nature impact our bodies and the environment. In her hometown of Mexico, ME, is a paper mill that employed many of the community's residents, including three generations of her family. Although the mill brought economic stability to the area, it wreaked havoc on the surrounding lands and waters. Owing to the high number of cancers and rare physical ailments, the town was dubbed "Cancer Valley." In this powerful memoir, Arsenault dredges up the town's history, interviews locals and family members, and pores over environmental reports to present the multifaceted issues facing the town, including a diminished working class, environmental destruction, and corporate corruption and greed. Included are stories about her father going on strike twice, and the negotiations that resulted. She also explores the mill for herself in order to begin learning about what life was like for machinists. Her research rounds out the story of her family, who like many families in the area, had lives intertwined with the mill and are now facing a reckoning. VERDICT This story will resonate with readers grappling with similar crises in their hometowns and is a recommended addition to memoir collections.-Mattie Cook, Flat River Community Lib., MI

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Interests
Diversity,Mature Readers,LGBTQ+,Nonfiction,Biographies,History
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