At Risk by Alice Hoffman

at risk

Back in the 80’s, when this novel was written, AIDS was a huge hot topic. It was a new disease, with a great deal of misunderstanding around it, a lot of fear and urban myths. One of the greatest being that it was a disease that only happened to gay men. But people also had some crazy ideas about how it could be contracted. I guess that some of that stigma has changed, even though AIDS is still a huge issue.

In this novel, Amanda, an 11 year old girl with a bright future at a gymnast finds out that she had contracted the virus through a blood transfusion. Whilst she comes to terms with the fact that her future has disappeared, her family is left reeling by the fact that they are losing her and are completely helpless.

But the impact ripples out through the community. Whilst some people want to support and pull together, many want to exclude and expel.

It’s a story that’s sometimes sweet, often melancholy, but insightful, compassionate and beautiful. It’s also terrifying. This little girl, plucked from ordinary life and given a terminal diagnosis reminds us how fragile our lives are and how tragedy can happen to anyone.

Read It If: you’ve ever lost someone you love. Another triumph from Hoffman.

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