The Removers: A Memoir

In 1990, when Andrew Meredith was 14 years old, his family fell apart. The downfall was caused by his 50-year-old father, a teacher fired from Pennsylvania's La Salle College after he was accused of sexual misconduct with a female student. The scandal and its lasting impact on Meredith's mother and sister, and the author, bind this powerfully drawn, often wrenching debut memoir. His father later found work as a "remover"--someone who takes away the bodies of people who died in their own homes--and the story of Meredith's experiences working alongside him becomes the central thread and metaphor for the dissolution of his family.

A remover is "paid to be invisible.... We are men made to be forgotten." Fortunately for the reader, however, Meredith never forgets incidents from his life; he vividly recall details from his often gruesome, sometimes exhilarating experiences handling corpses while grappling with his bitterness toward a man who broke his heart.

Meredith's fluid, unabashed prose is delivered in a stream-of-consciousness style interspersed with scenes of how he floundered for 15 years after high school. He worked a job he didn't want, taking 10 years to finish college, and endured a series of failed romantic relationships. After ultimately moving to California, Meredith missed his hometown--the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia. Might his work with the dead have been his true professional calling, his salvation? Meredith's circuitous journey of self-discovery will fascinate those interested in the mysteries of life and death. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

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