Montandon’s first novel is a fictionalized account of his family’s happy life on their rural west Texas farm before his father’s tragic death from AIDS.
The author’s father, Eugene “Doc” Montandon, was subjected to unnecessary surgery in the early 1980s; many years later, shortly before his death, the family discovers that Doc was infected with HIV-positive blood as a result of the procedure. The hospital never informed the Montandon family of its error and even refused to treat Doc as a patient. By the time the family found out, Doc was in the advanced stages of the disease. Although quite touching and emotional, the story of Doc’s disease, death, and resulting emotional and spiritual toll on the family comprises only the latter half of Montandon’s volume. The first portion is dedicated to family history. These recollections set the stage and build characterization before the tragedy starts to unfold, but some readers may be anxious for the action to kick off. If this book were restructured—bringing Doc’s story to the forefront while weaving anecdotes throughout the entire text—the poignancy of this title might resonate more with readers. The story of Doc’s treatment, death, and everything that follows is captivating. As it revisits a time when people were shamefully refused treatment for AIDS, the book chronicles the early stages of American society’s understanding of this disease and presents a grim picture of the ignorance and the intolerance to which early patients were subjected. The impact of Doc’s death on the author is clear, and he describes Doc’s final days with an intensity and passion that will affect readers.
Starts slow but ends as a beautiful, memorable story of one family’s love and the tragic death of its patriarch.