EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 28, 2014

'All Souls' author to speak to students

NORTH ANDOVER — Michael Patrick MacDonald, author of the best-selling book “All Souls: A Family Story from Southie,” will be speaking in North Andover and Lawrence on June 6 and 7.

MacDonald, who grew up in South Boston and was one of 10 children of a single mother, describes in the book the impact of drugs, crime and violence on his family and neighborhood. He also tells about the influence of crime boss Whitey Bulger and the effects of court-ordered busing to achieve racial balance in the schools and the violence that accompanied it.

MacDonald has become an anti-violence activist who frequently brings his message to high school students. His visit to the Merrimack Valley resulted from second-year North Andover High School English teacher Justin Bilton’s memoirs class.

The students read MacDonald’s book as part of this class and then wrote letters to him, Bilton said. MacDonald wrote back and told the students he would like to come and speak to them. Bilton said this was a pleasant surprise because MacDonald is much in demand as a speaker and is usually very difficult to contact.

Mary Gregoire, head of the English department at North Andover High School, said she and her colleagues think MacDonald has a message that young people need to hear. North Andover and Lawrence educators will collaborate on organizing the author’s visit, she said.

Exact times and places where MacDonald will be speaking still need to be worked out. The organizers also have to figure out how to pay for his appearance, Gregoire said.

Anyone who would be willing to help pay for MacDonald’s visit or who has ideas on how it might be financed is asked to call Gregoire at the high school at 978-794-1711, extension 51020; or email her at gregoirem@northandover.k12.ma.us.

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