When it comes to books about Providence, few are as beautiful and rich as Leah Carroll’s debut narrative, Down City: A Daughter’s Story of Love, Memory and Murder. A Rhode Island native, Leah channels her experiences with mother’s drug addiction and murder that was synonymous with the Patriarca crime family. Being only four years old when her mother went missing, Leah has a lot to figure out about who her mother was. It’s an emotional, high stakes ride as Leah discovers her mother’s love for life, talent for photography and the drug addiction that ultimately led to her murder.
Leah’s prose is beautiful, rich and dark. With each turn of the page you find yourself laughing (especially when she spends multiple pages describing a Dunkin’s hot cup) and then feeling truly broken for Leah. After coming to terms with her mother’s death, Leah begins to focus on her father’s life and who he was. Her father tries to hide his alcoholism while raising Leah and there are plenty of missteps along the way. When her father dies suddenly, the narrative becomes a story of a child seeking to find the truth about her parents, all while making her own mistakes.
Leah makes Rhode Island come to life as a character. From the downcity bars her father drank at, to the fall of the Providence Journal, and many other cameos from major spots around the state, Rhode Island takes center stage beside Leah’s mother and father and leaves the reader nostalgic and in awe.