Down City

  • From the Publisher
May 16, 2017

Leah Car­rol­l’s moth­er, a gift­ed ama­teur pho­tog­ra­ph­er, was bru­tal­ly 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. 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. Her Irish Catholic father con­vert­ed to Judaism at 29 to mar­ry her moth­er, a Reform Jew. Her Jew­ish iden­ti­ty was extreme­ly impor­tant to her spir­i­tu­al­ly and cul­tur­al­ly, and while Leah’s father rarely spoke about her mom and did not con­tin­ue to prac­tice Judaism after her death, it was very impor­tant to him that that Leah under­stand her Jew­ish iden­ti­ty, be proud of it, and own it ful­ly. With the com­pas­sion­ate remove of an adult look­ing back on a dif­fi­cult child­hood, Car­roll allows her par­ents to exist beyond their weak­ness­es, to find a full­ness and com­plex­i­ty that is often denied those who strug­gle with addic­tion or men­tal ill­ness. In this way she sets them free from their dark ends and allows her­self to embrace their artis­tic natures and even find inspi­ra­tion in the unique way each of her par­ents inter­act­ed with the world on their best days. Down City push­es beyond painful cir­cum­stances and set­ting to explore the more uni­ver­sal ques­tions of how we define our­selves how intrin­si­cal­ly con­nect­ed we are to our par­ents and the way the past impacts who we are, yet holds no pow­er over our future.

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