THE GIFTS OF THE BODY by Rebecca Brown


Email this review


 Brown (The Children's Crusade, not reviewed) relates this slow, doleful tale of a home-care volunteer for people with AIDS in an unsentimental voice that treats illness and dying with a sort of reverence--but which also fails to generate much interest. The unnamed narrator in an unnamed city is a long-time volunteer for Urban Community Services, a program founded to provide care for people with AIDS (PWAs). As the number of PWAs grew and new medicine allowed them to live longer, the need for home-care workers, respite workers, buddies, a food bank, and home meals expanded, so that UCS is now a significant community presence with government funding. The narrator manages to slip in this textbook information while describing the time she spends each week with various clients: Connie, an old woman who was infected with HIV during a blood transfusion while undergoing a mastectomy; Rick, a young gardener who's going downhill fast; Ed, an angry soap-opera addict who doesn't want to enter the hospice because no one ever leaves there alive; Carlos, who is sometimes incontinent and trying to deal with the embarrassment of his new condom catheter; Marty, an old friend of Carlos's, who reveals that he helped Carlos kill himself because he was in so much pain at the end; Keith, a man virtually covered with quarter-sized purple sores that the narrator, for the first time since starting her work, has a hard time dealing with (he ``really looked like the plague''). In the end, the narrator realizes that her difficulty with Keith was a sign of burn-out and accepts the drain that comes with watching people die. So when Margaret, a friend and the head of home-care services at UCS, tests positive, quitting this kind of work is the only way the narrator can recapture hope for a cure. Guilt-inducing for those who expect good writing and find themselves yawning over people's deathbeds. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-017159-6
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1994


FictionTHE END OF YOUTH by Rebecca Brown
by Rebecca Brown
FictionWHAT KEEPS ME HERE by Rebecca Brown
by Rebecca Brown
FictionANNIE OAKLEY'S GIRL by Rebecca Brown
by Rebecca Brown


FictionTHE GREAT BELIEVERS by Rebecca Makkai
by Rebecca Makkai