ISBN 9781250799685, 1250799686
Trade Paperback | 368 pages
"Arsenault pays loving homage to her family’s tight-knit Maine town even as she examines the cancers that have stricken so many residents.”—The New York Times Book Review
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 employed most townspeople, including three generations of Arsenault’s own family. Years after she moved away, Arsenault realized the price she paid for her 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, physical, and emotional health in a slow-moving catastrophe, earning the area the nickname “Cancer Valley.”
Mill Town is a personal investigation, where Arsenault sifts through historical archives and scientific reports, talks to family and neighbors, and examines her own childhood to illuminate the rise and collapse of the working-class, the hazards of loving and leaving home, and the ambiguous nature of toxins and disease. Mill Town is a moral wake-up call that asks, Whose lives are we willing to sacrifice for our own survival?