Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Remembering the AIDS Pandemic in Books: Reviewing Caregiver, a Novel by Rick R. Reed

Remembering the AIDS Pandemic in Books: Reviewing Caregiver a Novel by Award-Winning Author Rick R. Reed


Today is June 5th. It stands for Enterprise's last trip to the Intrepid Museum (canceled until further notice), the Venus travels and partial lunar eclipse (that may or may not be seen from the East Coast). But for three decades and counting, June 5th has marked the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

The first cases of AIDS reached American shores on June 5th, 1981. Since then, tens of millions of people have died, tens more have been infected. Thirty years and counting, and the pandemic is still with us. The virus is still a killer virus, maybe tamed, but yet a killer. And the AIDS pandemic seems kinda... forgotten, at least in the United States. Mainstream media doesn't really talk about HIV/AIDS. Grassroots activists do, but their opinions often fall of deaf ears. Some artists, though, do not lose hope. They keep talking about HIV/AIDS, no matter what.

Why they do that, one may ask? Because, as surprisingly as it may sound to some, it is still important to talk about HIV/AIDS. Some individuals tackle the topic in their speeches, others in their artwork, because it is always important to remember, to not forget...

Writers, which are artists too, use their words to keep alive the darkest years of AIDS. One of these writers is Rick R. Reed. His book is Caregiver and my review of Caregiver was originally published in A&U Magazine--America's AIDS Magazine.

Here it is, again, in case you missed it a few months ago, when it originally came out.

Hope you'll enjoy the read. As always, thanks for stopping by.

Alina Oswald
Author of Journeys Through Darkness: A Biography of AIDS




    Caregiver
    by Rick R. Reed
    Dreamspinner Press
   
    Review by Alina Oswald
   
   
    "There is a fine line between triumph and disaster. That line is hope," says long-term AIDS survivor and Hope--A Story of Triumph author, Joel Rothschild. As we step into the fourth decade of AIDS, we further distance ourselves from the disaster associated with the pandemic and become more used to the idea of triumph against the pandemic. And yet, staying on the path from disaster to triumph can be challenging, and may require a delicate balancing act between modern day AIDS complacency and awareness, between our strides towards a future free of AIDS and our responsibility to always remember the history of AIDS.
    Award-winning author Rick R. Reed takes on this responsibility. In Caregiver, a semi-autobiographical story of AIDS based on the his own experience as an AIDS buddy (volunteer companion) with an outreach organization, Reed takes us back to a time before the advent of life-extending medications, at the height of the epidemic, offering a chronicle of AIDS from the less expected perspective of a witness to (rather than victim of) AIDS.
    The enormity of the pandemic engulfs both its witnesses and victims, and comes through during the read. Yet, the Caregiver story is not one of human hopelessness, nor helplessness. Rather, it is a bold tale of self-doubt and regret, trust bruised by addiction and fear mixed in with the desire to carry on. Caregiver is a gentle story of compassion and friendship that become love, and of love and sacrifice that transcend realms. In Reed's story caregiver/patient roles reverse and evolve, making room for a lasting connection, one stronger than AIDS and death, a keepsake to guide us on the path through AIDS, from its years of disaster to those of triumph.
    In Caregiver Reed explores human nature as it is shaped by life, death and everything in between. The result is a heart-wrenching, outstanding and memorable read.