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Book Review: "A Hard Silence"

by Melanie Brooks



Silence as the result of shame and grief can brutalize a family. Such was the case for Melanie Brooks and her siblings and parents when her father contracted AIDS through a tainted blood supply as the result of heart surgery.


The family might have been all right if such an incident happened in recent times, not to mention her father might have survived due to life-saving treatments that have been developed since the start of the epidemic. But unfortunately, the catastrophe came about in the 1980s shortly after the deadly virus was discovered, given a name and stigmatized as the price to be paid for living a homosexual lifestyle.


The author does a fabulous job of describing the cultural fear and loathing that caused many people to act abominably during that era by denying access to school for kids with AIDS and saying those who got the disease deserved it.


What made the situation worse for the family, however, was their involvement in a conservative religion that embraced homophobia.


Worried they might be found out, the author’s family took refuge in what would become a life-altering, disastrous censorship. Only the author’s dogged courage in returning to the roots of that silence helped her free herself from the spirit-depriving secrecy.


Profoundly honest, this story will speak to anyone who’s been part of a family where, for one reason or another, crushing silence reigned.


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For updates about Martha’s forthcoming books, news and giveaways, subscribe to her website: MarthaEngber.com.


THE FALCON, THE WOLF AND THE HUMMINGBIRD a historical novel, Sept. 19, 2023


BLISS ROAD, a memoir


WINTER LIGHT, a novel


THE WIND THIEF, a novel


GROWING GREAT CHARACTERS, a resource for writers



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