What struck me about this book was not as much the tragic story line, but the well paced, unique character development which lead up to the tear jerking climatic event when the authors father contracts AIDS. Thru-out the book the author shares a number of brief memories about growing up in the heart of Texas as the a son of a cotton farmer. Although I first thought I was going to be reading the typical story of immigrants settling in the new world, it soon became apparent that this detailed exposition was critical to his story. Inch by inch the author dropped clues about where we were going with the story and how critical those clues were. (Although one or two of the clues were a tad bit blatent)
The story is focused around his father, a very strong, mild mannered, hard working mensch of a man. There were very few surprises that surfaced about the father (that was why his tragic death of AIDS was so startling) But the character that struck me the most was his mother. I felt empathy for her thruout the book. The somewhat dysfunctional family life before she married, her inability to always connect with her boys, her fear and perhaps her issues with trust. She wasn’t a bad person in any way, shape or form, but she was a confusing juxtaposition when compared to the father.
The story about his father contracting AIDS is a portrait of how far we have come in 25 years. The story clearly paints a picture of the predicable discriminatory nature of my perception of Texas even to this day. It demonstrated the frustration of not being able to explain how the father obtained AIDS during a medical procedure and the fear, especially from the mother, of being tagged with the scarlet letter. The legal and social vindication is heartwarming although I would have liked to have seen even more details about the legal wrangling...and to have seen a Perry Mason legal climax. But that will have to wait for the movie.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was touching to see the maturation of the author from a child to mature adult. It’s never too late to learn and adapt.