“Fifteen years of death, death, death, then the people lucky enough to make it this far start getting better, stop looking like cadavers. Now they have to figure out how to pay their credit card bills.”
I’m playing catch up here and slowly adding earlier reviews to my blog. Here is one that was released in August that I’d like to share. The 80’s and the AIDS epidemic was an interestingly terrifying time, the fears of those ravaged by the disease that little was known about, the lack of dignity, the rejection by society and sometimes, family how did we come to that and where did we go with more knowledge. This novel took me back, I was young during that decade but can still recall the paralyzing fear of AIDS and how easily we can turn cruel. I remember when AIDS was a dirty secret meant to be hidden at all costs. This novel is a journey through the evolution of AIDS, the use of drugs and how things may look in the not so distant future.
Artists, sex, drugs, New York, AIDS, the 1980s and then a toe in the future. There is addiction, activism, and if this isn’t a novel for the BOHOs, then I don’t know what one is. Every character is well developed, everyone full of story. The way people were treated during the AIDS epidemic was brutal and it’s strange to think it really wasn’t that long ago. It took me back to the fears people had.
This isn’t a short story nor one to read lightly. The most important part is how they all touch each other in unexpected ways. We follow Mateo into the future, he is my favorite character. We follow the drug addictions, the impossibly heartbreaking ‘undoing’ of all one achieves in rehab. I imagine everyone can relate, because in all walks of life drugs has touched everyone.
There is an excerpt that hit me. “Fifteen years of death, death, death, then the people lucky enough to make it this far start getting better, stop looking like cadavers. Now they have to figure out how to pay their credit card bills.” I can see a person (male/female, doesn’t matter) color coming back into their skin, starting to look normal, to function again and rather than the AM I GOING TO DIE they are buried under the stress of finances. Welcome to the land of the living, now hurry up and pay your medical debts. Those of us who have dealt with illness know it’s ravages but money money money, my lord it’s enough to make you sick all over.
Ysabel’s sad story, the pregnancy, her family wanting nothing to do with her when she had AIDS, dying and leaving a child behind- these things happened. I cannot imagine losing family support when facing a terrifying illness. This novel is a wonderful mix of life with a lot of heart. It’s a tough read if you can take the time to get into it. Tough because it’s touching. Wonderful