Published: July 2012
This memoir is set in 1963, detailing the lives of a Catholic family in Maine after the sudden death of their beloved father. Later that year, the assassination of President Kennedy throws the nation into mourning, mirroring their family's grief.
Most of this book is not tragic and sad, but is more of an endearing look at childhood in a town that owed its success to a thriving paper mill. All over town, families forged their own American Dream with fathers working shifts at the mill to provide for their families. The author astutely observes that that American Dream hinged on one primary factor: dad. When he was gone, did that mean their dream vanished, too?
The author adds in a lot of local history and setting "of the times." She mentions it was a time when, during the summer, kids were sent outside and were not expected to be seen again until dinner. Her older sister, mentally disabled, did not have additional options other than being held back a grade, and eventually, the nuns suggest she might be happier at home. The nostalgia is told without a sugar coating, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions.
This is a highly detailed, close look at one slice of Americana. This is just the type of memoir I gravitate toward: it's not sensational or gimmicky, it's just real people living small, but fascinating lives.