Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyAs forthright as its title, this first novel deals directly with the reality of AIDS-effectively and affectingly. Lacy, a 13-year-old who is an avid swimmer, learns that Jack, her gay older brother, has AIDS and is moving back home. Urged by her parents to tell no one, she begins recording her thoughts and anxieties in a journal, entries from which are worked into Davis's trenchant story. Lacy's parents try to shield her from Jack's pain and his physical deterioration, encouraging her to keep up her "normal" life. In one of the novel's most poignant scenes, Lacy, expected to give a standard oral report on a health issue, courageously announces to her entire class that she is going to tell them what it is like to live with someone who has AIDS. Her move has unexpected consequences, and as Jack's condition worsens, Lacy spends less time with her swim team and more with her brother. These siblings-and the relationship between them-are unusually believable. The impact of the novel's sad but ultimately uplifting ending is emotional without being mawkish, and the reader is advised to have several hankies on hand. Ages 9-13. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Dr. Judy RowenLacy has already figured out that her older brother, Jack, is gay. She found out by sneaking a peek at a private letter her parents had received. Now there is another letter-but this one holds more ominous news. Jack is dying from AIDS, and he wants to come home. The family wrestles with the decision, and finally prepare themselves for Jack's return. Nothing, however, prepares them for how desperately ill he is. Nor were they prepared for the strain caring for a dying relative places on the family-they fight among themselves, become seriously sleep deprived, and nearly ignore Lacy and her needs. Her performance on the swim team is slipping and her friends are drifting away, a few of them frightened to associate with someone living with an AIDS patient. Published before improved therapy for HIV infection was available, this book presents a dismal portrayal of the ravages of AIDS. The subject, however, isn't useful only for those dealing with HIV, but applies equally to any family faced with the impending death of a loved one.
School Library JournalGr 5-9-Just when 13-year-old Lacy thinks that competitive swimming is what matters most to her, she learns that her older brother has AIDS and wants to come home. At first her parents' denial of his gayness transfers to his illness, and Lacy feels alone with her grief. While the family cares for him, a confusing array of emotions shakes her confidence. Yet she speaks out about AIDS at school and, when she says goodbye to her brother, she is able to verbalize all of the things she needs to say to him. Realistic portrayal of Jack's illness will provide readers with information about AIDS and an opportunity to empathize with those affected by it, but this novel loses its way at times. Tensions are resolved too easily and, except for Lacy herself, characterization is thin. A subplot in which she struggles to excel on the school swim team despite her turmoil is predictable but believable.-Claudia Morrow, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Frances BradburnThirteen-year-old Lacy, her life full of friends, middle school, and swimming, is unprepared for her mother's announcement that Lacy's beloved older brother, Jack, has AIDS. Too ill to live alone, he has asked his family if he may return home. Gripping as well as poignant, this book is a tribute to all families who nurse a loved one through the final months of a fatal illness, especially one as devastating as AIDS. Davis does not sugarcoat the illness and its effects upon other family members. She allows Lacy to recall her father's fury at Jack's disclosure of his homosexuality, her parents' insistence on the secrecy of his illness, and the adults' ambivalence about his return home. Once he is home, the gradual deterioration, the wasting away of his body and mind, are constant reminders that death is imminent. Likewise, they are constant reminders of the physical and mental toll such an illness takes on the family--the vomit and the sweats, the sleepless nights, the jealousy of usurped time. A realistic, accurate portrait of the caretaking families that love people with AIDS.
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