I picked up this book because of its ties to Massachusetts, my adopted home. I kept reading because, well, Dubus has such a way of storytelling that by the time you've been told three, four, ten stories, you remember how it all began and he brings you round again to the beginning. There were moments my jaw dropped open, my hand flew over my mouth, and tears came to my eyes. Dubus manages to look objectively at his darkest moments and relay them with such life. I can only imagine it was a painful exercise; no one can enjoy looking back at themselves in such a hurtful, vicious cycle. But he is also forgiving of himself, of the lessons necessary to who he is now. He is not apologetic or regretful in this memoir about violence and poverty and rough neighborhoods and the unfortunate sum you get when you add those things together. Instead, he is explanatory; he is simply showing us how these things happen, how those people live, how the cycle keeps going. He also shows us how that cycle can be stopped with an unrelenting will and another vessel to pour all of that emotion into. Lucky for Andre Dubus III, he found that vessel in writing. Many of the people he grew up with--many of the people right here in our very own communities--they never find one of their own. This memoir offers hope, and mourns the causes that have been lost. The casualties of an undeclared war.
At first glance, this memoir seems to be about violence and Dubus' victory over it or journey through it. But, really, I think it's about empathy, and how sometimes we have to suffer in order to really be able to see other people.
I saw a woman who'd been hurt and hurt and hurt till she was so full of it she could only do two things: die of it, or push it all back out into the face of another. It was a nearly unavoidable flow of bad feeling, and as I stepped out into the cool spring air of this city in the foothills, I knew that's what joined me to these offenders, that shared ability to turn a wound into a wounding, one that might even kill another, the one who deserved it.