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Rolling Pennies in the Dark: A Memoir with a Message
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Rolling Pennies in the Dark: A Memoir with a Message

3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  75 ratings  ·  22 reviews
“Our intoxicated mother had marched the three of us out into what passed for a living room in the cardboard and tarpaper shack we were existing in on the edge of Nowhere, New Hampshire. She assembled us like an audience on the broken yellow sofa, and said, ‘I’m going to kill myself now, and it’s all your father’s fault.’ ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Howard Books (first published February 7th 2012)
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To be honest I feel like I was duped. If only I would have taken the time to research the author before I sat down to read his “memoir.” I’m not sure that would have stopped me since the blurb for this book makes the claim that this is so “heartbreaking and inspirational.” Maybe I would have found it more inspirational if he had not spent a large chunk of the book sharing his distaste for what he refers to as “liberal” media. I do not need to be spoon fed your political beliefs Mr. MacKinnon. I ...more
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
"For me and the millions of people across the planet who had or have it much worse than me, a recurring questions is "What's the point?"

For many of our fellow human beings in indescribable pain, it's natural to contemplate any and all ways to end such unbearable and unrelenting pain. Sometimes the black abyss just beyond the edge of the cliff looks like the answer. The only answer.

"What's the point?"

For some who are beaten down by the ravages of poverty and life, there is no point. Unless we ca
Braden McElroy
My concern for MacKinnon’s Rolling Pennies in the Dark is that his powerful story will get lost because those who disagree with his resulting viewpoint will review it negatively...for primarily superficial reasons.

But first things first. As others have noted, the first half of the book covers Mr. MacKinnon’s childhood — though “childhood” is not an appropriate word because he never had the nurturing environment that allows one the freedom to indulge in being a child. For him, poverty was the co
MacKinnon's memoir begins with his childhood of growing up in the mist of extreme poverty with dysfunctional absent minded alcoholic parents. Despite the hell of his early years, MacKinnon did not consider morality a luxury he couldn’t afford. To the contrary, he developed a strong faith in God. It fascinates me when someone experiences great pain but does not reject God because of it. For me, the first half of the book is worth reading.

One might expect that someone who experienced what Mr. MacK
This was a pretty interesting book. Doug MacKinnon grew up in the Dorchester section of Boston in an incredibly abusive and poverty-stricken home. Both of Doug's parents were violent alcholics who really did not care what their three young children did to survive. Doug and his siblings often went hungry and rarely had electricity in their home. Doug learned from a young age that he had to take care of himself because otherwise no one else would. Eventually Doug managed to go to college and get o ...more
The short chapters pack a punch, sometimes literally, mostly verbally. The author blends his opinion into his recollection of horrifying, life-altering events, understandably, but I was thrown off. He is rightfully spiteful and certainly successful when the world had him in a choke hold, but it read like a transcript from therapy sessions. My reaction left me feeling guilty and unsympathetic to his plight. I wanted to know more about what kids in poverty experience, to open my eyes to a hidden t ...more
Andi Newberry ~Tubbs
Doug and his younger siblings grew up in deplorable conditions, very little food, dirty home, drinking parents who fought and threw things. Yet, at a very early age when he was sent to Parochial school he was drawn to God. A little nativity scene was on a table and he felt safe and such peace when he went by it. He asked a Nun if he could have it and she said No, but he could buy it for four quarters. He knew what four quarters were so he took four quarters from his dad's suit coat and bought th ...more
I didn't make it all the way through this one. MacKinnon had a horrible childhood full of poverty, uncertainty, and abuse. He's got a powerful story to tell in there somewhere. Unfortunately, he was not able to convey that story to me. He judges others very, very harshly - faults people for being "born evil" or being lazy and so on. Yet without a note of irony he makes excuses for every bad thing he does - "I wasn't a bad kid; I was just trying to survive in a rough neighborhood." I made it abou ...more
What a tragic story. I enjoyed the first half of the book.....but there seemed to be a huge chunk missing between his miserable childhood and working in the whitehouse, married with children. It just seemed like a huge and important hole in the story. I questioned the author's disdain for teachers...ESP. Sine education was the only good thing that happen to/for him. It's not like the nuns in the catholic school treated him so well. The author is surely biased when it comes toteacher's unions.

I liked this book, but it got a little preachy at the end, and would not be for everybody.
Amy Giveans
Like most memoirs just reading it makes me angry that parents could be so cruel. I found this book readable mostly because he didn't dwell long on the misery. Chapters were short. He actually went on to have an interesting career. Although his life certainly still has it's ups and downs. Sheds light on proverty in America and how the country treats it or ignores it. The one thing I didn't understand how he has no ill will towards his family members that knew of the abuse but didn't do anything a ...more
This book felt like a bait and switch -- the author and his two siblings survived a terrible childhood at the hands of his alcoholic, ne'er-do-well father and alcoholic, mentally ill mother. So the survival aspect of MacKinnon's book is commendable and inspiring. But he's a crummy writer. His prose style is a collection of clichés, contradictions, and aphorisms. Where was the editing? Plus, the second half of the book descends into political asides that make me think he works for Fox News. It wa ...more
My heart goes out to children who endure abuse from parents. My biggest question was why no one (Uncles & Grandparents) stepped in to take legal action and forcibly remove the children from their blatantly abusive parents. I found his negotiation into adulthood fascinating. The political anecdotes and ideas were an interesting addition to the book. He suggests education is the key to helping the poor change. This book was a unique view into a childhood with alcoholic parents (similar to the ...more
I knew nothing of this author before reading this memoir. The memoir felt forced. I think this book had potential for being a best seller if the author would have told his story instead of preaching it. I will admit that I was turned off by the story as soon as he is recounting his high school years, but felt it necessary to say teachers of today only care about unions and not students. For me it took a downward spiral from that point on.
Great story about a man who had the most difficult childhood anyone could have and survived it to become a writer and successful adult. I was especially drawn to this story as an example of what kids are going through while suffering abuse, neglect and abject poverty that is never discovered by social services. I found it hard to read about the suffering that these children survived with no intervention. Amazing story of resilience!
This author is really an inspiration to me. It's hard to understand why some people have such a difficult childhood and turn out so productive and then others who have so many benefits end up wasting their lives or hurting others. This book gives you some insight into the mind of one of the less fortunate ones who has the desire to do something with his life and ultimately succeeds. Highly recommended.
What a illustration of a horrible childhood. For me this was a male version of "The Glass Castle." Each chapter of his childhood was more horrific than the last. I was thankful to see the author success despite an unimaginable start in life.
Risha Wallick
Dennis Miller recommended this book and it was very good. You have to respect someone who comes this far in life...when starting from nothing. Good read.
The story was good , but I felt that the author was holding back, that there was more meat to the story than he presented.
Susan Baker
Poorly written. Extremely sad. So much to think about.
Loved it!! Very inspiring and common sense.
Talk about pulling yourself up by the bootstraps.
Janie marked it as to-read
Oct 17, 2014
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