The Great Believers – amazing novel
The latest book I read is one that I was somewhat apprehensive about reading as I was not sure what to expect but I am so glad I did. It had so many raves and on so many top 10 lists I decided to check it out.
The novel actually has two stories intertwined – one about a group of friends living in Chicago back in the early-mid eighties when the early impact of AIDS began appearing in the gay community and the other about a young lady who was friends with a lot of the people who died during that time and is now looking for her estranged daughter in 2015.
This book is a definite emotional rollercoaster but the author handles it all so well. The story centers around Yale, a gay man who works in the art community for a college and Fiona, his good friend who’s brother was disowned by their parents because he was gay and who has succumbed to AIDS. Yale is an interesting character who has so much personality and he thinks and says things that really make you appreciate him as a person. What is fascinating is he has become connected with an elderly lady who has – what they all have reason to believe – is original artwork so he and his comrades at the university he works for are trying to obtain the work. The only issue is they have to go through this woman’s family and try to secure the rights to the work. What I loved about this part of the novel is that you can feel his connection with the elderly woman as she tells her stories about the work – who is dealing with a possessive son and granddaughter as far as the work as if it is determined they are originals it could be art worth millions.
The other story involving Yale is heartbreaking and very hard to deal with but is handled with grace and style.
Fiona also has her story about her family who she despised due to how they treated her brother and died from AIDS (she is dealing with guilt for not trying to protect him) and then her story of having a marriage that failed (she had an affair) but resulting in a daughter who she loves but who abandons her and blaming her for the marriage falling apart.
The novel packs a punch in so many ways and I can see why it received so many rave reviews. It is hard to read the sections and flashbacks to the 80’s and those impacted by AIDS as there is some graphic stuff described but it only intensifies those who struggled with the illness during that time.
There is an amazing quote from this novel that touched me greatly –
“If we could just be on earth at the same place and same time as everyone we loved, if we could be born together and die together, it would be so simple. And it’s not. But listen: You two are on the planet at the same time. You’re in the same place now. That’s a miracle. I just want to say that.”
This is a great read!
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