A gay man recounts his tumultuous relationship with his partner during the 1980s AIDS epidemic in New York City and Boston.
In his debut memoir, retired psychotherapist Ward recalls his rocky relationship with a man named Mark Halberstadt in the early ’80s. The pair met during the author’s vacation to Fire Island, and soon the author found himself “sick with love.” The two shared a passionate but volatile relationship as Halberstadt struggled to pursue a career that he loved and attempted to resolve a legal issue that kept him financially strapped. Although the pair constantly fought about money and their diverging paths in life, they always managed to stay together. The AIDS crisis was always lurking in the background of their lives, but even as the crisis mounted, the author notes that he “didn’t see how AIDS related to me at all.” After a period of illness, Halberstadt was diagnosed with AIDS, and he had to reconcile the fact that the disease had entered his world. Ward decided to stay with Halberstadt “for the duration….In sickness and in health,” finding support and guidance from the growing community in Boston dealing with AIDS and especially from other couples in their position. This fast-paced memoir not only focuses on the hard times between Ward and Halberstadt, but also highlights the couple’s many vacations and sailing trips (a favorite activity of Halberstadt’s) before the latter became ill. The author does an impeccable job of portraying Halberstadt multidimensionally, and he treats him with compassion and fairness throughout. Ward is a talented storyteller who’s created a compelling, emotionally rich tale out of a difficult, tragic time in American history. Anyone looking for more insight into the AIDS epidemic from a deeply personal perspective will likely benefit from this book. It could have been incredibly difficult to read about someone watching their partner struggle through disease, but Ward handles his and Halberstadt’s story with admirable grace.
A well-handled look at the AIDS crisis from the perspective of a man who lived through it.