WHEN HEROES DIE by Penny Raife Durant


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Gary, 12, idolizes his vital, affectionate uncle Rob and is devastated when his mother tells him that Rob is HIV-positive. Though this is clearly a novel with a message, Durant imparts information without lecturing, surrounds Gary with helpful, sympathetic people, and allows him the common sense to deal with his feelings of denial, anger, and confusion when he learns that Rob is gay, and with grief after his quick deterioration and death. Shy and uncomfortable around girls (particularly a certain classmate), Gary worries about his own sexual identity, especially after his mother makes the (debatable) assertion that sexual orientation is formed before birth; but Rob, in his last lucid moment, gives him a reassuring sense of perspective. Despite the author's occasional oversimplification of characters and issues--not to mention several instances of crude schoolboy banter--in the end the author has everyone behave with maturity, meanwhile offering helpful suggestions about reacting and remembering when AIDS strikes down a friend.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1992
Page count: 136pp
Publisher: Atheneum