A PLACE FOR KATHY by Henry Denker


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In Denker's popular novels (To Marcy, With Love, 1996, etc.), where bad things happen to good-to-saintly people, there's often a dollop of medical matter; here, in the story of a widow and mother confronting AIDS, there's a good deal of powerful information concerning the disease. Grace Cameron, widowed at 32 when her hemophiliac husband died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage, supports herself and her 12-year-old daughter Kathy by operating a small calligraphy and gift-wrapping shop. On a routine doctor visit, though, she learns that she has AIDS, undoubtedly from a tainted blood transfusion given her husband in the past. She breaks the news to Kathy, and together the two weather the waves of fear and hope, anger and despair. As the disease progresses, Grace also realizes that she must find a home for Kathy, and she begins desperately to search for someone caring. There's wealthy, elderly--and bossy--Uncle Harry, eager to help but also eager to dictate Kathy's future. There is Aunt Hortense, who fears upsetting her childless marriage, as well as Aunt Louise, compulsively interfering and driven. Then there are the loving parents of Kathy's best friend--but does that marriage mask some hidden problem? Meantime, visits to the doctors proceed, and lab reports tell a chilling story. Kathy, grieving and obsessed, reads everything she can find about AIDS, learning the significance of the "branched DNA" test that reveals the status of the body's protective cells and that of the virus, and despairingly tracks the course of her mother's struggle. The haunting question of how long? is answered; Grace and Kathy celebrate Kathy's 13th birthday; and as the end approaches, Kathy herself will choose a home. Denker's people are inoffensive outlines, but the author's clear and convincing explanation of the nature and treatment of AIDS carries a natural impact. Sad stuff in a thin telling.
Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-688-14963-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1997


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