A debut memoirist tells the story of her mother’s brutal murder and her difficult relationship with her father, who followed his wife to the grave 14 years later.
When Carroll was 4 years old, police discovered the body of her mother, Joan, on the side of the highway. Fourteen years later, they found her father, Kevin, who had died from an enlarged heart and liver disease, in a room in a cheap Rhode Island hotel. The question of who her parents were and how they had come to such tragic ends haunted Carroll into adulthood. Determined to find answers, she scoured her memory, newspaper accounts, and police records for clues and interviewed people who had known them both. Carroll speculates that her cocaine-addicted mother got involved with drugs through her father, a man who may have given Joan pills from the “collection” he took to manage mental illness. Joan’s addiction eventually led to ties with the Mafia drug lord who killed her out of fear she would turn him in to the police. Not long after his first wife's death, Kevin remarried and moved the family from Providence to Barrington, an upscale Rhode Island town that made them all feel “normal and wealthy and safe.” Yet alcoholism and manic depression took their tolls. Kevin and his new wife eventually divorced, while Carroll moved between homes and through high school in a haze of angst-ridden confusion. Yet it was after her father’s death that she was finally able to “reinvent [herself] as wholesome, and capable” and begin the long, difficult task of making sense of her family’s tragic history. Unsentimental and simply told, Carroll’s quietly powerful story offers a courageous, cleareyed vision of a broken family while exploring the meaning of forgiveness.
An honest and probing memoir of coming to terms with family.