Andre Dubus III’s memoir is a striking memoir of an impoverished and violent youth on the streets of Haverhill, Massachusetts. It’s pronounced HAYvrill, which I know from my having explored the streets of nearby Lowell as a child. My father grew up in that parallel Massachusetts mill town and what I sought in this book was a chance to revisit the area. That’s not what I got.
I was however held in rapt fascination by Dubus’ stark, gritty descriptions of the people who populated his street-fighting youth and his open appraisal of the relationship he developed with an absentee father. What’s more, in the book’s latter pages, he explores his own evolution towards becoming a writer.