A Hard Silence

One daughter remaps family, grief, and faith when HIV/AIDS changes it all

Non-Fiction - Memoir
300 Pages
Reviewed on 11/15/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Emma Megan for Readers' Favorite

A Hard Silence is a profoundly moving, personal, and informative account of the challenges of dealing with AIDS from a daughter's perspective. In 1985, Melanie Brooks's life was deeply affected by tragedy when her father contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during open-heart surgery. This memoir is about her father, how he was before and during his illness, and how the illness affected every family member, especially Melanie. Melanie was only thirteen years old when her beloved father, a surgeon, became a patient bearing the burden of HIV/AIDS. Melanie says that for many years she couldn't voice her pain and agony as her family decided not to tell anyone about her father's devastating illness. They wanted to avoid facing discrimination and the stigma that people infected with HIV faced during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. But remaining silent and living in isolation and secrecy affected her in ways she wasn't prepared for.

What this book teaches the reader more than anything else is that not talking about your tragedy, pain, sadness, and loneliness can lead to more severe problems later in life. Melanie Brooks's story of dealing with uncertainty, judgment, fear, faith crises, grief, and loss is essential reading. Her courage to finally lift the veil of secrecy and expose her trauma is impressive. This heart-wrenching and page-turning memoir describes what it was like to feel useless when someone you deeply love fights against an illness with no cure. It inspires those suffering from separation, loneliness, and loss who need compassion and support to speak about their struggles and pain and not feel alone anymore. I highly recommend A Hard Silence.