Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Love and Loss

April A-to-Z: must-read books

The Screaming Room (1987)
By Barbara Peabody

A superior novelist has a good sense of the emotional landscape of their work and takes the reader on a balanced ride, alternately building then dissipating tensions. This book is instead a roller coaster with far more downs than ups. There is no balance here because this was not written by a superior novelist, but by an inexperienced writer; a mother whose child has succumbed to AIDS. This is in fact her diary.

This happened some years ago, when AIDS was new to North America, not well understood, and generally received as a death sentence. The story is told with fearless explicit honesty.

I grew to love these people and was deeply hurt by their experience. For a couple weeks after reading it I had to regularly remind myself that I had not actually known these people; that they were not counted among my friends and loved ones. And yet, I will never forget them.

Nothing I can say could oversell this book’s impact. It’s emotionally devastating; so much that perhaps I should not even recommend it. And yet I do and without hesitation. For all the hurt there is a great reward which is hard to express. I think my capacity for empathy was greatly nurtured from this experience and that is a precious thing in a world that needs so much more of it would we survive this species' reckless adolescence.

This is a must-read book for anyone with a heart.

1 comment:

Stephen Tremp said...

Thanks for the review. I don't normally read stories like this as they leave drained. Call me simple, but I like happy stories with happy endings.

Stephen Tremp
A to Z Cohost
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