Books by Jeanne White

Released: April 1, 1997

A simple but affecting memoir of one mother's tragedies and triumphs in the age of AIDS, written with the help fo Dworkin, a former editor of Ms. magazine. White, whose son Ryan became the center of a controversy concerning AIDS, begins her journey into the devastating world of parenting an ill child by learning to cope with the demands of her newborn son's hemophilia. This is challenge enough for any parent, but when Ryan is diagnosed with AIDS in late 1984, White's trials take on far deeper dimensions. What makes this memoir particularly worthwhile is the author's account of the impact of Ryan's illness on her and those around her. Ryan's father is unable to cope, and the couple eventually divorce. Ryan's sister avoids all reporters, even when her brother becomes a media star. Neighbors and friends shun the boy and his family, resorting to legal action to keep him out of the classroom. When Ryan does get back to school, he is taunted with cries of ``faggot'' and is isolated. Reporters sympathetic to her son receive death threats. Yet White prevails. Although she has grown up in a community that views homosexuals as sinners, she comes to see them not as transgressors but as her allies. And never does White lose her faith in God. Instead of perceiving her son's illness as a punishment, she sees it as a test. She writes, ``I felt that handling the tests that life brought you was how you worked your way into Heaven.'' The book cannot be considered a treatment of your typical child victim of AIDS, as Ryan was lavishly attended to by the likes of Michael Jackson and Elton John (whose names are dropped all too often). Nonetheless, this is a fine tribute, on the seventh anniversary of his death, from a mother to a son whose spirit touched the world. (First printing of 40,000; author tour) Read full book review >