256 pages • 6.125” x 9.25”
Set in the South End of New Bedford, Massachusetts, during a transformational time in American history, Blue Collars is Catherine McLaughlin’s debut novel.
Young Fiona “Finn” Kilroy grows up in a devoted, yet dysfunctional, Irish American family during the late 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Theirs is a working-class, immigrant neighborhood, where Portuguese, Irish, French, African American, and Cape Verdean families live side by side in three-decker tenement houses distinct to industrial mill cities.
Finn’s hardworking and hard-drinking father labors as a loomfixer at the Berkshire Hathaway textile mill, while her resourceful, Catholic mother holds the family together. Her life seems carefree and idyllic, her days and nights filled with family, singing, reading, swimming, playing board games and building forts. But a terrible secret haunts Finn’s childhood and its revelation only deepens her pain and confusion. Her determination to survive–and forgive–in the face of betrayal is as heartwarming as it is heart wrenching.
Blue Collars is a timeless story of a family’s enduring love triumphing over poverty, abuse, and heartache.
Author and artist, Catherine McLaughlin grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She received her undergraduate degree from Southeastern Massachusetts University and her graduate degrees from the University College Dublin and Bowling Green State University. As a graduate student at Bowling Green, Catherine was assigned to be the assistant of writer-in-residence James Baldwin, author of The Fire Next Time. Baldwin mentored McLaughlin and they developed a friendship that lasted the last ten years of his life. Catherine taught English and writing for 40 years at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Framingham State University. In 2015 she published a book of her poetry, Under a Circus Moon. Now retired, McLaughlin is professor emerita of Framingham State University, she lives in Dartmouth, Massachusetts with her two cats.