Shauna's Reviews > Townie

Townie by Andre Dubus III
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's review
Sep 22, 2011

really liked it
Recommended for: Townies everywhere, Massholes

I downloaded this as an e-book exclusively because I used to live on the North Shore and worked in Haverhill, MA, as a Mental Health Counselor and I was curious about the roots of what is now a rusty, lonely and crumbling community struggling to stay afloat. Turns out my connection to the town in "Townie" was the least compelling part of the tale. Dubus is a straight-up contradiction, a person I simply could not characterize in any way that makes sense, and in fact I think that's the only possible outcome from such an uncomfortable upbringing: academic hippie parents who move to a rough, street-run mill town. What kind of people do kids raised with one foot on each side of the river become?

I enjoyed this book primarily because Dubus can tell a story, period. If it were fiction, it would be pretty compelling. The fact that it's true life, his life, accentuates the poignancy of the complicated relationship with his college professor father and accents the grit of each street fight, bad decision, and turning point. I could not stop myself from wondering, page by page, how the hell this kid was going to get it together on any level that would approximate a path that I *know* leads him to become a successful writer. At the same time, I am somewhat of a townie contradiction myself, having sprung from the dirt roads of the most rural corner of Vermont into elite higher education, world travel, grad degrees and professional success that landed me making a life in urban Seattle. So, shit happens. I make sense, sort of, in multiple worlds. Dubus told the hell out of how that happens.
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