Jessica Verdi’s My Life After Now (Sourcebooks Fire) is one of the very few young adult novels to explore frankly and compassionately what it’s like for teens who discover they’re HIV-positive. High school student Lucy has had more than her fair share of drama, and she needs to get away from her problems for one night. But when her night of wild freedom results in an HIV diagnosis, she has no idea how to face her future—much less her friends, her boyfriend, and her two dads.
A Place at the Table (Touchstone) benefits from author Susan Rebecca White’s intricate style as she chronicles how the lives of three New Yorkers become unexpectedly connected at a local café. In the rich novel that spans from North Carolina in the 1920s to the devastating beginnings of the AIDS epidemic in 1980s Manhattan, White tells the story of Bobby, a gay Southerner; Amelia; a wealthy Connecticut woman; and Alice, an African-American chef.
“I’ve run away from my life,” says the broken, bitter, and faithless Rev. Sarah Obadias. Abraham Darby, a man she meets at a New York City restaurant, replies, “I know. Take mine.” Georgeann Packard’s Paint the Bird
(Permanent Press) tells the story of Sarah’s immediate connection with Abraham and the shock when she finds herself accompanying him to the funeral of his son, Yago Darby Díaz, who has died of AIDS-related causes. Sarah and Abraham’s lives become intertwined with those of Yago’s widower, the two men’s son, the child’s birth mother, and Yago’s mom. Despite the colorful cast of characters, Sarah is ultimately left alone to patch her life together.
Archer Barron, the protagonist of Joyce Thompson’s How to Greet Strangers (Lethe Press), is a man who has lost everything and is trying to get it back. Once an aspiring lawyer, he’s now a Bay Area university night watchman who has become disillusioned with life following his boyfriend’s death and his own HIV-positive diagnosis. Then a Santería priestess who had promised to cure him in exchange for money is murdered. When the police target him as a prime suspect, Archer turns detective to find the real killer.
Carol Rifka Brunt’s Tell the Wolves I’m Home (Random House) is the story of 14-year old June, who loses her closest confidant and best friend when her uncle, a renowned painter, dies of AIDS complications. A few days after his death, she receives a note from a strange man she noticed lurking around the funeral, asking her to meet. As the two spend time together, June leans on this man and discovers how he knew her uncle Finn so well.