Mill Town
A review of

Mill Town

Reckoning with What Remains


Deadly Water

by David Meyer

Award-winning bestseller Kerri Arsenault reveals the slow destruction of her hometown at the hands of its sole industry, a polluting paper mill.

Kerri Arsenault – book review editor at Orion magazine and contributing editor at The Literary Hub – grew up in Mexico, Maine and foresaw a bleak future as the area’s working-class towns went into decline, along with the factories that had fueled them. Arsenault learned that her state’s beautiful waterways hid lives ravaged by disease, ecological ruin, political denial and intrigue, all centered around pollutants from a nearby paper mill. She offers a searing family memoir of how industrial polluters exploit working-class families like hers.

The book won the Rachel Carson Environmental Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Critics John Leonard Prize for Best First Book and the 2021 New England Society Book Award. O Magazine selected it as one of the Best Books of Fall 2020. People Magazine explained, “Arsenault combines memoir with investigative journalism.” And, The Boston Globe wrote, “With affection and concern, Mill Town recounts Maine’s constant conundrum, an American story, a human predicament.”


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