The Julia Tuttle Causeway Sex Offender Colony: Background information when reading Lost Memory of Skin

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Lost Memory of Skin

A Novel

by Russell Banks

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks X
Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2011, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2012, 432 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Mark James

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Julia Tuttle Causeway Sex Offender Colony

Print Review

Lost Memory of Skin revolves around a colony of convicted sex offenders residing beneath the Archie B. Claybourne Causeway, which connects the city of Calusa, Florida with the bordering Great Panzacola Swamp. Banks's vivid descriptions bring these fictional locations to life, and though they are imaginary, both the city and the colony bear a striking resemblance to real-life Miami and the community of sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

Julia Tuttle Causeway

In 2005, Miami-Dade County passed one of the most stringent sex offender laws in the country; it stated that registered sex offenders could not live within 2,500 feet of a school, bus stop, park, or any other place that children might gather. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU), "it has become virtually impossible for these individuals to find affordable housing in Miami-Dade County that meets the 2,500 foot requirement." As a result, a sex offender community formed under the Julia Tuttle Causeway, a bridge that connects Miami Beach with mainland Florida.

At the time of a 2009 report by NPR, registered sex offenders were required to report to the shanty town between the hours of 6pm and 7am to check in with patrolling parole officers, and many were even issued licenses listing "Julia Tuttle Causeway: Under Bridge" as their residence. Some officials claim that this unusual housing situation increased public safety because sex offenders were removed from regular society and could be physically located at any given time. However, many (such as the ACLU and the offenders themselves) disagreed, calling this housing solution a violation of human rights.

The Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, a group formed by the county to help end homelessness, states that in April 2010, the Julia Tuttle Causeway dwellers were moved into better, more affordable housing alternatives. However, according to an interview with Russell Banks in the New York Times, "the causeway homeless were evicted in 2010 after they became too visible and embarrassing... and there is now a chain-link fence and a 'No Trespassing' sign barring access to the area."

Russell Banks leaves no clues as to why he didn't use the actual place names in the novel, but as one of his characters notes, maybe a story about a convicted sex offender is "not a story likely to be welcomed by the... Chamber of Commerce or the local tourist board."

Watch the video below to see images of the shanty town and to hear offenders talk about their experiences living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

Image of Julia Tuttle Causeway, credit Marc Averette

Article by Mark James

This article was originally published in November 2011, and has been updated for the July 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Story of Arthur Truluv
    The Story of Arthur Truluv
    by Elizabeth Berg
    Elizabeth Berg's heartwarming novel scored an an impressive 4.4 average rating from the 48 members ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Ballad
    The Last Ballad
    by Wiley Cash
    Ella May WigginsA hundred years ago or so, farming land west of Charlotte, North Carolina was given over to giant ...
  • Book Jacket: Future Home of the Living God
    Future Home of the Living God
    by Louise Erdrich
    Louise Erdrich began Future Home of the Living God in 2002, set it aside, and picked it up again in ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

At once a love story, a history lesson and a beautifully written tale of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Strangers in Budapest
    by Jessica Keener

    Strong characters and a riveting plot combine in this psychological thriller set in Budapest.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

No pleasure is worth giving up for the sake of two more years in a geriatric home.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E Dog H I D

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.