At Risk

( 27 )

Overview

In a novel the Village Voice calls "memorable" and "striking", Alice Hoffman vividly portrays a family shattered by tragedy when 11-year-old Amanda is diagnosed with AIDS.

A stunning national bestseller, here is the story of a family in the tradition of "Ordinary People" and "Terms of Endearment." The Farrells are a family as ordinary and special as any family. There are parents, a son, and an 11-year-old daughter with big dreams of gymnastic gold. But a shocking ...

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Overview

In a novel the Village Voice calls "memorable" and "striking", Alice Hoffman vividly portrays a family shattered by tragedy when 11-year-old Amanda is diagnosed with AIDS.

A stunning national bestseller, here is the story of a family in the tradition of "Ordinary People" and "Terms of Endearment." The Farrells are a family as ordinary and special as any family. There are parents, a son, and an 11-year-old daughter with big dreams of gymnastic gold. But a shocking tragedy consumes them, and it becomes all too clear that when it comes to love, everyone is at risk.

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Sun-Times
Deeply moving...Sensitivity and empathy...radiate from this beautiful novel.
Village Voice
Compassionate...This is a serious, honest novel.
Jim Shepard
In its simplicity and directness and restraint there is very often a compelling power' to this novel... —The New York Times Book Review
Mademoiselle
I have rarely encountered a work that has moved me as strongly... extraordinary.
Newsweek
Deeply impressive...powerful.
Miami Herald
Within pages, the reader falls in love with this very real little girl... Moving, dramatic and painfully human.
Chicago Tribune
Brilliant...explosive...heartrending.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With this moving novel, Hoffman has written a story about a family attacked by tragedy, and has given it a larger relevance by confronting one of the most frightening issues of our times. The Farrells are a middle-class family living in a small New England town. Ivan Farrell is an astronomer, wife Polly a photographer, eight-year-old Charlie a budding biologist and 11-year-old Amanda a talented gymnast. Hoffman has few rivals in depicting domestic scenes: the bickering between siblings, the tension between spouses, and withal, the humor and love that holds families together. Suddenly the Farrells are singled out for grief. Amanda, who has been winning gymnastic meets despite a summer-long malaise, tests positive for AIDS, contracted some five years before when she was transfused with contaminated blood after an appendectomy. In unsensationalized detail, Hoffman depicts the effects of her illness. Too stunned, angry and anguished even to turn to each other, Polly and Ivan retreat into separate worlds. Charlie is abandoned by his best friend and shunned by his schoolmates. Amanda, an average adolescent who loves Madonna records, must come to grips with the process of dying. The hysterical reaction of some members of the community is a further blow. Hoffman's sensitive handling of this material is both matter of fact and heartbreaking. Ivan's friendship with a man he meets through the AIDS hotline, Polly's search for comfort with Amanda's pediatrician, Charlie's stoic bewilderment, Amanda's bond with a young woman who is a medium (the only evidence in this novel of Hoffman's characteristic feeling for the supernatural) are all beautifully portrayed.
Library Journal
Hoffman's newest work is heart-wrenching. Star gymnast on her school team, 11-year-old Amanda yearns toward adolescence. When her illness is diagnosed (she'd had a blood transfusion for an appendectomy), her photographer mother Polly, astronomer father Ivan, and 8-year-old brother Charlie experience the expected disbelief, anger, and sorrow. However, because Amanda has AIDS they also experience rejection by old friends and trouble at school. As Amanda's life dwindles away, the family struggles, begins to dissolve, but finally reconnects. First-rate ``contemporary issue'' fiction that will leave few dry eyes. -- Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
Glamour
Graceful...emotionally potent...A cathartic tale that begs us, with heartbreaking eloquence, to stop looking the other way.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425117385
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/28/1989
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 438,982
  • Lexile: 940L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.24 (w) x 6.74 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice Hoffman is the author of fifteen novels: Blue Diary (2001), The River King (2000), Local Girls (1999), Here On Earth (1997), Practical Magic (1995), Second Nature (1994), Turtle Moon (1992), Seventh Heaven (1990), At Risk (1988), Illumination Night (1987), Fortune’s Daughter (1985), White Horses (1982), Angel Landing (1980), The Drowning Season (1979), and Property Of (1977). She is also the author of three children’s books: Aquamarine (2001), Horsefly (2000), and Fireflies (1997).

Born in New York City, and raised on Long Island, Hoffman graduated from Adelphi University and received an M.A. from Stanford University, where she was Mirrielees Fellow. She currently lives near Boston with her family and her dogs.

Biography

Born in the 1950s to college-educated parents who divorced when she was young, Alice Hoffman was raised by her single, working mother in a blue-collar Long Island neighborhood. Although she felt like an outsider growing up, she discovered that these feelings of not quite belonging positioned her uniquely to observe people from a distance. Later, she would hone this viewpoint in stories that captured the full intensity of the human experience.

After high school, Hoffman went to work for the Doubleday factory in Garden City. But the eight-hour, supervised workday was not for her, and she quit before lunch on her first day! She enrolled in night school at Adelphi University, graduating in 1971 with a degree in English. She went on to attend Stanford University's Creative Writing Center on a Mirrellees Fellowship. Her mentor at Stanford, the great teacher and novelist Albert Guerard, helped to get her first story published in the literary magazine Fiction. The story attracted the attention of legendary editor Ted Solotaroff, who asked if she had written any longer fiction. She hadn't -- but immediately set to work. In 1977, when Hoffman was 25, her first novel, Property Of, was published to great fanfare.

Since that remarkable debut, Hoffman has carved herself a unique niche in American fiction. A favorite with teens as well as adults, she renders life's deepest mysteries immediately understandable in stories suffused with magic realism and a dreamy, fairy-tale sensibility. (In a 1994 article for The New York Times, interviewer Ruth Reichl described the magic in Hoffman's books as a casual, regular occurrence -- "...so offhand that even the most skeptical reader can accept it.") Her characters' lives are transformed by uncontrollable forces -- love and loss, sorrow and bliss, danger and death.

Hoffman's 1997 novel Here on Earth was selected as an Oprah Book Club pick, but even without Winfrey's powerful endorsement, her books have become huge bestsellers -- including three that have been adapted for the movies: Practical Magic (1995), The River King (2000), and her YA fable Aquamarine (2001).

Hoffman is a breast cancer survivor; and like many people who consider themselves blessed with luck, she believes strongly in giving back. For this reason, she donated her advance from her 1999 short story collection Local Girls to help create the Hoffman Breast Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA.

Good To Know

  • Hoffman has written a number of children's books, including Fireflies: A Winter's Tale(1999), Horsefly (2000), and Moondog (2004).

  • Aquamarine was written for Hoffman's best friend, Jo Ann, who dreamed of the freedom of mermaids as she battled brain cancer.

  • Here on Earth is a modern version of Hoffman's favorite novel, Wuthering Heights.

  • Hoffman has been honored with the Massachusetts Book Award for her teen novel Incantation.
  • Read More Show Less
      1. Hometown:
        Boston, Massachusetts
      1. Date of Birth:
        March 16, 1952
      2. Place of Birth:
        New York, New York
      1. Education:
        B.A., Adelphi University, 1973; M.A., Stanford University, 1974
      2. Website:

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4
    ( 27 )
    Rating Distribution

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted March 20, 2007

      At Risk Review

      Alice Hoffman took a simple tragedy, but made it unique with complex details and great characters. The story itself was believable because of descriptions used to paint the story¿s image in the reader¿s mind. An example is when Hoffman described Laurel Smith¿s séances, which really showed her working environment and played up her image throughout the book, like how she was thirty but had long, braided hair. I liked how At Risk showed the emotional side of having AIDS and was not just like reading a medical textbook or informative article. At the same time, however, Hoffman showed her knowledge of the disease by presenting factual information when Amanda was diagnosed near the beginning of the story. I also liked how even though the story was about Amanda¿s illness, it did not just focus on her alone. There was this main plot of whether she would live or not and her life with AIDS, but there was also many smaller, complex plots throughout the story. Examples of this include Ivan¿s struggle to communicate with his wife and his companionship with Brian, Polly cheating on Ivan and feeling alone in the world, Linda Gleason figuring out what she wants in life and how to handle the situation at school, and Charlie not understanding how to treat his sister or what to do with Sevrin. The ending, however, was slightly disappointing, because it was succinct and left me with many questions. Did Linda Gleason quit her job or stay at the school? How did all the students and previously hateful parents towards Amanda react when she died? Did Amanda even die when she was taken to the hospital at the end? There were also a few parts that were too cliché, but overall it was a good and easy read that I liked.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 22, 2007

      At Risk - By: Alice Hoffman

      I enjoyed 'At Risk' because it was so interesting you could not let the book leave your hands. Amanda and the way she is portayed as an 11 year old girl with AIDS made it easier to understand how people who get or have AIDS have to deal with the disease. I totally recommend this book for average readers. I learned alot from the text and was intrigued.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 19, 2007

      GREAT BOOK

      At Risk by Alice Hoffman is a great book in my eyes. I could really feel what the family was going through because there is someone in my family who is sick like Amanda. The person does not have AIDS, but a disease that does not have a cure. The book was so powerful in how the family felt which is just like how I feel along with my family. This book also showed me how AIDS is not just as `gay¿ disease, but how people can get AIDS by many other means other than sex. It shows that sometimes, AIDS is caused by a accident on the doctor¿s side. I also liked how there was so much fact about AIDS and viruses in general. I learned more about viruses from this book than my textbook. My favorite part about this book is the ending, or how there is not an ending. I like it how Alice Hoffman left the ending open to what ever we wanted it to be, sad or happy. Also, in general, Hoffman¿s writing is outstanding. Like I said, I could really feel the certain people¿s emotions in the book about how the disease of a little girl affected them so much and how they lived also. I recommend At Risk to anyone who needs a good book to read.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 19, 2007

      AMAZING! Allows you to fully comprehend how AIDS can affect the people around you

      Before I read the novel ¿At Risk¿ I didn¿t fully understand how much AIDS could affect a family and all the people surrounding that family. The novel allowed me to fully comprehend what AIDS can do to a person and how the virus can tear apart a family and the people surrounding that family. Although I was not looking forward to reading ¿AT Risk¿, I enjoyed the novel a lot and found it to be very interesting. I found it very interesting how Amanda¿s friend, Jennifer, was one of the two friends that stucked to her side and helped her through her illness. Throughout the novel Amanda becomes friends with Laurel Smith who is know as the ¿town witch¿. AS Amanda becomes friends with Laurel they start to hang out a lot and Laurel becomes Amanda¿s new best friend. I believe that Laurel helps Amanda fight through her illness even more than Dr. Readren does or her mom. I didn¿t like how the novel ended without you knowing what happened to Amanda, or what happens between Amanda¿s mom and Dr. Ed, or if the principal gets fired from her job. I don¿t like how you have to ¿finish the ending¿. I wish that the author had finished off the story and explained what happened between everyone. I found this book to be very interesting and very informing. I wouldn¿t have said this three weeks ago but now I would definitely say it I would defiantly read this book on my free time. If you have the chance you should defiantly read this informing novel about a worldwide illness.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted July 28, 2006

      Sad but a great read

      Hoffman shows the struggles of this young girl and how she learns to face her problems. Its an amazing book. Even though they were made up characters it felt like I new each one of the characters. I only wish that I could have the strenght that Amanda had.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 24, 2005

      A book you'll enjoy!

      This book is about an eleven-year-old girl named Amanda. She has contracted AIDS from a blood transfussion that she received before blood began to be tested. This is a very beautiful story about a family strugling to keep their family together and fighting to prolong Amanda's life. Alice Hoffman did an amazing job giving each character exceptional characteristics. I really enjoyed this book and I hope you will too.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted September 9, 2003

      abstract reality

      Wow, many words can't place of meaning on the drama and different conflicts that inflict this family.She hits the reality of life in many ways- how sometimes things happen that we just can help. Also, late departures draw early attractions. Alice once again has written not a only a great book, but a piece.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted July 12, 2002

      A new favorite to add to the list!

      This is one of my favorite books. I read it a couple of years ago and have not stoped thinking about it. I have remembered so much from this book that I can't even remember about books that I have just read. I am also a gymnast and I can imagine how scary that would be. I could never go through something as scary as having AIDS as a child. I have and will keep recomending this book! It is great!

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 29, 2001

      We are all at risk when it comes to human nature.

      In our society, children diagnosed with terminal illnesses are looked upon with pity. Concerned neighbors help the children¿s families through such turbulent times. Most tight-knit communities work together as a unit to make these tragedies as painless as possible. Even some organizations provide financial support to pay for medical bills, last wishes, and funeral costs. However, if a child is diagnosed with AIDS, these examples of goodwill swiftly evaporate. In Alice Hoffman¿s novel, At Risk, the reader is provided with a realistic story of a family who struggles among themselves and the community after their eleven-year-old daughter and sister was diagnosed with AIDS. Personally, I believe this book is an important addition to anyone¿s library. Therefore, I recommend this novel to nearly anyone who is touched by tragedies. Since the reading level is not very challenging, this story appeals to a myriad of readers young and old. Almost everyone can relate with one or more characters in this story. Most importantly, the conflict in the story is universal. The story begins with life as usual in a small New England town. Summer is fading away into fall, and school is about to begin. Life is simplistic for the family. Polly, a photographer, and Ivan, an astronomer, are a devoted couple with two children. Charlie, the youngest, takes after his father with an interest in science, particularly dinosaurs and specimens from a nearby pond. Amanda, an eleven-year-old, is a promising gymnast. However, Hoffman delivers a tragic twist which shatters this American Dream. After a gymnastics meet, Amanda becomes terribly ill with a fever. Polly takes her daughter to Ed, the local pediatrician. Unfortunately, Ed determines from a routine blood test that Amanda has AIDS which she acquired from a blood transfusion before blood samples were checked for the virus. The initial reaction is taken terribly by the characters. Hoffman accurately portrays the sorrow and anger from hearing the diagnosis. Polly is overwhelmed with sorrow. Ivan regrets not spending enough time with his daughter, and becomes belligerent towards Ed. Charlie thinks it does not matter much. Amanda believes that some pill or shot will be found to cure her illness. Her main concern is going back to school for gymnastics. Already, the reader can sense the family drifting in opposite directions. The split between family members grows ever wider when a second wave of disasters strikes the family. News of Amanda¿s disease spreads rapidly through the community. Hysteria sets in with the fear of infection. Immediately, five students in Amanda¿s school are enlisted into private schools. Instead of sympathizing with Amanda¿s family, most disassociate themselves from the family. Charlie who had been best friends with a boy named Sevrin can no longer see his friend because of his mother, Betsy, fearing infection. In addition, Charlie is ignored by his parents and is in the care of his grandparents. Ivan seeks comfort from Brian, a person who worked for an AIDS hotline. Brian helps to console Ivan as he speaks less and less with Polly. Polly, on the other hand, becomes involved with Mrs. Gleason, the school principal, who works valiantly to calm the fearful parents. She also spends more and more time with Ed in treating Amanda. Finally, Amanda is beginning to feel the effects of AIDS on her gymnastics performances. Hoffman does a stellar job in revealing that tragedies often break families apart. The author also throws in some twists at this point. Laurel, a former psychic and client of Polly¿s becomes involved in Amanda¿s life. She attends Amanda¿s meets, and teaches her to cook and braid hair. These two unlikely friends also have sleepovers at Laurel¿s house. In addition, Jessie, a teammate on Amanda¿s gymnastics team, becomes attached to Amanda. She becomes her only friend at school because most other girls fear the virus which she car

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 31, 2001

      An unforgettable book about a community's struggle over AIDS.

      At Risk is a compelling novel about the journey of a family through the crisis of AIDS. It reveals the inner feelings of everyone connected with eleven-year-old, Amanda Farrell¿s illness. The changes she and the community go through show their true characters. This book is an excellent depiction of human nature. The different ways in which people respond to a situation are represented clearly. These reactions include everything from denial, shock, and disbelief to anger, surprise, sadness, and fear. The relationships between characters in this book are all altered by this life-threatening situation. Ivan and Polly, Amanda¿s parents, begin to grow apart and handle the illness in their own ways. They both turn to other people for help, instead of each other. The friendship of Charlie, Amanda¿s younger brother, and Sevrin, Polly¿s coworker, Evelyn¿s, son, is shattered because of her fear of contagiousness of the disease. Amanda starts to pull away from her best friend, Jessie, because she doesn¿t want to hurt her when she dies. Amanda and Laurel, the local medium Polly is bio-graphing, start to grow inseparable. Amanda tells Laurel all of the things she¿s thinking and everything she can¿t tell her mom. Ivan and Polly start to forget that they have two children instead of one, which leaves Charlie very lonely, without a best friend and parents. However, Charlie and Amanda grow closer as brother and sister. The realism of this book is striking. You are struck with the realization that something like this could happen to you or a loved one. This book greatly moves the reader emotionally and spiritually, so much, it makes the reader¿s heart ache for this poor, unlucky girl. Her misfortune makes you thankful for what you have and makes you reflect on your life. It makes you question if you have lived your life to the fullest. The story angers you at how people who are ignorant of a situation can be so cruel and unkind. The parents of the local students argue that Amanda should not be allowed to return to school, when it is one of the few things left that she can do. The children at her school are so uneducated of her illness, they stop going to the bathroom inside because they think they will catch AIDS from a toilet seat. The students also talk about her, not just behind her back, but also right to her face. These difficulties with the students and parents put great pressure on the principal of the school. She tries her hardest to please everyone, but most of the time what she does is not enough for either. We see that with all of the people opposed to anything to do with Amanda, some are willing to stand up for what¿s right. These people are greatly criticized and generally ignored by the public. Action is even taken against some of these characters. For instance, some teachers sign a petition to get the school principal off of the school, even out of her position as principal, because they believe she has let the students come too close and vulnerable to Amanda¿s disease. The reader starts to see how Amanda¿s goals lessen in difficulty, thus giving the sense of how much the illness does, in fact, alter the every day performance of the patient. Amanda starts to change right in front of the reader¿s eyes. She becomes weak and vulnerable. The criticism of others starts to bother her more and she is unable do her favorite activities anymore. Her parents and gymnastics¿ coach start being more lenient because they know what is to become of her. Amanda was once the strongest gymnast on her team, but as the story unfolds she realizes that she can¿t do it any longer. She is still there to cheer on her team though and she does her floor exercise one last time, the best one she¿s ever done. At Risk is very well written and is easy to understand, which is a relief to many readers. Alice Hoffman did a superb job of getting her point across to the readers. Her descriptions and word choices give us a very vi

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 29, 2001

      A truely inspirational novel

      At Risk was a book that really had an impact on me like no other book that I have read. I can¿t even begin to think about what I would do if I found out at 12 years old that I was diagnosed with AIDS, and the struggles that would lie ahead. The way that the Farrell family dealt with the situation really made the book feel like a journey through the wilderness. The path was unfamiliar to them because they had never experienced this in their lives, and therefore seemed a bit rocky. At first I was a little disappointed with the way that Polly and Ivan dealt with the problem. They each went their separate ways and felt that it would be easier to live with the situation if they didn¿t talk to each other. Polly thought it was easiest to talk to Ed Reardon and Ivan found condolence by talking to Brian. In the end it turned out to be for the best because they found comfort with each other again after dealing with personal problems on their own. I felt that Alice Hoffman really did a wonderful job of showing how a whole community of people can be affected by only one person. By having an outside narrator, instead of being told from the point of view of one of the characters, Hoffman could easily focus in on how each person was being affected by the AIDS separately, though Amanda was the only one directly affected. Hoffman also did a good job of showing how our world relates to AIDS and other diseases. Instead of offering their support towards the Farrell family, the community tried to have nothing to do with them. They went out of their way to make sure that they didn¿t come in contact with them. They tried to get Amanda kicked out of school. No one came trick-or-treating at their house. And, even Charlie, a helpless six-year-old boy lost his best friend just because his sister had AIDS. Life just seemed do unfair. It really showed how people of today¿s society act. No one thinks that AIDS is a big deal as long as the person with the disease isn¿t them or someone they know. Although this may come off as being mean and not understanding, the community is really scared and doesn¿t know how to deal with their fright. They think that by just shutting the Farrell¿s out, the problem will go away. The author made this clear to us when Polly ran in to Betsy after not having talked to her for years. Relationships that would not normally have formed; formed because Amanda got AIDS, and they turned out to be a blessing. One of these relationships is between Amanda and Laurel. It seems that the only thing that kept Amanda getting out of bed each day was the hope of seeing Laurel. The way that Hoffman tied her into the Farrell¿s life early on in the book was a very resourceful way of creating a new best friend for Amanda. Amanda looked up to her as an idol and they had so many things in common. Amanda loved her hair and hee country style house; she even says that if she could design her dream house, it would look a lot like Laurel¿s house. They would spend hours together listening to Madonna, and Laurel was even nice enough to come to one of Amanda¿s gymnastics meets. The way that Amanda could just talk to Laurel and tell her things that she couldn¿t tell her mom made Laurel seem like such a trustworthy person. Another relationship that seemed to form throughout the book is the relationship between Amanda and Charlie. At first it seemed as if they were distant. They were too far off in their own little worlds to worry about anything that the other person was doing. But, when Amanda was diagnosed with AIDS, Charlie began to feel what it would be like without her and he discovered how much he really loved her. Unfortunately, it was already too late and he didn¿t know what he was missing until it was gone. All he has now is memories and Amanda¿s pink gym bag that he will cherish forever. Hoffman did and amazing job picking a main character. The fact that she was the one to get AIDS made the book even more d

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 28, 2001

      At Risk of Learning!

      Picture this: You¿re sitting in your living room, surrounded by your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It¿s Christmas Eve, and your entire family has gathered together for this occasion. You¿re happy, because for at least one more night you can go to sleep knowing that if you pass during the night that you died happy, with the people you love. But this dream can never come true for 11-year-old Amanda Farrell; she has AIDS. It doesn¿t seem fair that a virus that will, guaranteed, take her life before she gets the chance to grow old can infect someone so young. For this pre-teen and her family, this horrible nightmare becomes a reality when Amanda receives a blood transfusion that is infected with the virus. With dreams to become a world-class gymnast destroyed, and an entire town turning against her, Amanda still refuses to let the virus take over her life. We can learn so much from this book, from this character, that can be applied to everyday life. ¿Don¿t follow the crowd, be your own person,¿ for one. Another would be the classic saying ¿Never give up.¿ Alice Hoffman creates very realistic characters, making it easy to feel for them in their difficulties. This book was very well written, and the character development is no exception. Something that many people may tend to overlook in this situation is what Amanda¿s little brother Charlie is going through. He may have it the toughest of the non-affected members of the family. His best friend, Sevrin, is forced to stop seeing him because Sevrin¿s mother believed that he could contract AIDS from him. This was a common misconception throughout the small English town of Morrow. Children were being pulled out of their schools because they didn¿t want to be in contact with things as simple as a toilet seat that Amanda had used. It seemed unthinkable that at the exact time the Farrell family needed the support of their community the most, that very community turned their back. Instead of people coming together to raise money, bring meals to the house, or just talk to the family, the people of Morrow bound together to try to drive Amanda out of the school. Using picket lines, and petitions to try to get rid of the principal who supported Amanda¿s decision to attend school, the town made it very clear that they wanted nothing to do with this unfortunate little girl. At Risk gives the reader an inside look of what life could be like living with someone who has AIDS. Polly, Amanda¿s mother, begins to depend on the family Doctor, Ed Reardon, for moral support. When she begins to lose her wits, her husband can¿t help her because he is going through the same thing. One very realistic thing that happened in this book was when Ivan began to call an AIDS support hotline. He talked to a man named Brian, who helped Ivan realize that there was nothing he could do, and that it was OK to cry. This is yet another life lesson that is discussed in the book. There are times that you just have to accept the burden that life gives you to bear. Although at times it may seem like too much, everything happens for a reason and everything has a purpose. The book also makes the reader realize that tragedy can strike at anytime, in any type of family. The Farrell family seemed normal enough, a mother, a father, and two children. What makes this family any different from your family or my family? Absolutely nothing. That is the scary thing, there is no way to predict who this tragedy will strike, or when. As if the situation Amanda was in wasn¿t bad enough, she puts additional pressure on herself. Before she is diagnosed with AIDS, her mother is trying to become closer to her daughter, mostly because she recalled that when she was Amanda¿s age, she began to pull away from her mother, and they never were close again. Trying to protect her mother¿s feeling, Amanda continued to pull away from her mother¿s outstretched loving arms. This 11-year-old

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 15, 2001

      Great Novel!

      This novel, set in a small town in New England, tells what happens to Amanda and her family after the eleven-year-old contracts AIDS from a blood transfusion. Amanda, the main character in the story, goes through so much as you turn each page of this novel. Not only is this tragic because of the young age of the character, the virus ruined Amanda¿s talent as a gymnast. The town¿s people turned against the entire family because she is very sick. The parents in the town start to pull their kids out of the school and the family starts to fall apart as she starts to get sicker. There were many people that thought that Amanda was different because she got the AIDS virus, but she was not different, she is still the same eleven year old girl. In my personal opinion, the book started very slow. It shows that anyone is able to catch this virus. People should be careful what they do, and they should protect themselves so they do not end up like Amanda. I think the town people were wrong to turn on the family. The family was also wrong because they did not help Amanda when all of the people turned on her. The book teaches of what could happen to people if they are careless. This novel was written very well, because it told us of what could happen to anyone at anyone time. I think the book provides a good insight to the real world. I also think that everyone should this book, because it is very touching, and maybe some of us can relate to Amanda¿s situation. It is a very moving novel, because everyone in the story is at risk.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 15, 2001

      At Risk, a very powerful and influencing novel.

      Alice Hoffman's 'At Risk' is a very powerful and influencing novel. An ordinary family of four whose lives are what today we would call 'normal' are violently changed. Polly and Ivan's eleven year old daughter who has a bright future ahead of her as a gymnast is infected with the AIDS virus. Several lives are torn appart by Amanda's sickness. Not only is this dissapointing for Amanda living her life knowing that she is going to die sooner than expected, but it is also dissapointing to her family. Parents in Amanda's school removed their children from attending the same school as Amanda so they would not contract AIDS. Polly grew to hate people who would not come in contact with Amanda or any member of the Farell family because of Amanda's illness. I think Charlie is affected the most by Amanda's illness because he has no one to turn to. The only person he has to turn to, his best friend Servin, is no longer allowed in contact with Charlie because his mother is affraid Servin will contact AIDS. Charlie has to learn to deal with the other kids in school ignoring him and having to spend more time with his grandparents. I feel in this novel, Charlie becomes independent. I think a very important part of this novel is the style of writing Alice Hoffman uses when she wrote this book. The point of view she uses when she writes this book makes it much easier to follow. Alice writes in third person narrative which allows the story to flow more smoothly. The narrator tells the reader every detail about every person in the story so that it isn't possible for the reader to get lost. I would say that Alice Hoffman's 'At Risk' is a book that everyone throughout all ages should read. It is a definate thing to put on your 'Things to do list'.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted June 3, 2000

      Outstanding Novel

      This novel really speaks to the heart of the reader and the book pulls you in. It is the most extrodinary book I have ever read. The beginning starts off slow but soon it picks up and it just is a page turner. I recommend everyone in reading this book.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 17, 2000

      A High School Student's Point of View

      This book gives everyone a new outlook on life. This book makes you relize how valuable life is and how easily it can be taken away. Amanda was a very strong 11 year old girl dying from AIDS. Her family and her go through many difficult opsitcals. The town turns against this family and they are faced with fear and sadness.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted September 11, 2010

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted October 18, 2010

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted November 14, 2011

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted February 24, 2010

      No text was provided for this review.

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