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Bleeder: A Memoir
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Bleeder: A Memoir

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  124 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
I am Caucasian, five foot eleven, have sandy brown hair, blue eyes, and am a tender slip of bone. And I am at the hospital. A coming-of-age memoir for modern times, Bleeder is the incredibly compelling tale of author Shelby Smoak. A hemophiliac, Smoak discovered he had been infected with HIV during a blood transfusion at the start of his college career. This devastating an ...more
Paperback, 214 pages
Published February 1st 2013 by Michigan State University Press
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Jan 28, 2013 Gene rated it it was amazing
A wonderful coming of age story, but not the typical coming of age story. Bleeder really makes you think, "what would I do in that situation." Sometimes doing the "right" thing isn't always the right thing to do. I think this book will be of particular interest to those os us, like myself who came of age in the 80s and 90s. So, what are you waiting for, go get a copy of Bleeder!
Jul 16, 2013 Claire rated it really liked it
It's great when a memoir about dealing with both hemophilia and HIV can surprise you with its warmth/charm/sexiness??? It's REALLY hard to be sweetly funny and relatable when you're writing about terrible things that you've gone through. To step back and write with the poetry and the clear-headedness that a little objectivity can bring you....boy!I cringe when I read my own blog posts etc. from some of my darker days in college(definitely not even close to being this rough), but this book is not ...more
Mariah Burton Nelson
Aug 13, 2016 Mariah Burton Nelson rated it it was amazing
Vivid, heartbreaking, inspiring tale of a young writer's struggle to live life fully in the face of hemophilia and HIV. Highly recommended. Author profile and book review here:
May 08, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Amazing, poignantly crafted memoir that brought tears to my eyes and kept me turning the pages. Highly recommended!
Courtney Niederer
Oct 30, 2013 Courtney Niederer rated it it was amazing
Excellent memoir! Highly recommend it! The story is so real, you can feel his pain and sickness as he writes. Amazing!
Apr 24, 2013 Suzanne rated it really liked it
A book should transport you into a different life and show you a perspective that you had not experienced. This book does just that. I enjoyed it!
Dysmonia Kuiper
Feb 20, 2014 Dysmonia Kuiper rated it liked it
Recommended to Dysmonia by: Sarah Thomas
Shelves: the-352
Bleeder was unlike any other memoir I have ever read, partly because of the simple fact of the topic: Shelby Smoak was born a severe hemophiliac who, as a child, contracted HIV through a blood transfusion in the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

The book begins with Smoak turning 18 and learning of his status (his parents were informed years beforehand, and let him choose whether or not he wanted to know as a child), and chronicles his college and young adult years. Bleeder is lovely, fascinating
Evanston Public  Library
Imagine being a little kid who falls down, gets a bruise, and then never heals. Shelby Smoak is one of the rarest of the rare: a hemophiliac with less than 1% clotting agent. So being a little kid constantly in the hospital is bad enough; now imagine that one of those times you get a transfusion and the transfusion is tainted. This was a sad possibility in the late 70’s and early 80’s. And it happened to Shelby. His parents were informed when the first HIV test came back positive when he was 13, ...more
Jan 07, 2015 Kyleen rated it liked it
This is the story of a portion of a man's childhood/early adulthood spent living with hemophilia and HIV. This memoir exposed me to something I previously knew nothing about and was eye-opening in that respect.

To me, many (or most) of his descriptions felt forced - I found myself skipping over a lot of his descriptions since they felt clunky when they were trying to be smooth. The memoir is mainly composed of "I did", "I went", "I sat" - a lot of telling without showing. Even though this is a me
Jul 17, 2014 Kathy rated it liked it
Smoak writes of his late teens through his early twenties, a period when he not only has to deal with severe hemophilia, but also his having contracted HIV. His experiences pretty much chronicle how society has dealt with AIDS- at first the treatments are basic and those who find out he has it are fearful that they might "catch it". That said, I didn't care for his writing style . I found it to be very choppy ("I did this, then I did that") and flat. I also found that his use if adjectives to be ...more
Jacque Mgebroff
Mar 17, 2013 Jacque Mgebroff rated it really liked it
I was interested but skeptical at the start of Bleeder. My problem, I think, is that I was trying to anticipate the direction of the story. I'm really glad I finished the book. I learned a lot, I was enlightened and I was left with closure. The book is too well written - obviously because Shelby Smoak is an English major. :> There's a true story of rising above your circumstances here. I don't want to overwrite another readers' reaction with the distraction of my preconceived notions on this ...more
May 24, 2014 Jennie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This story is one of the most unique and intriguing I have ever read. The strange title caught me and description got me.

Shelby has HIV; contracted through tainted blood and hemophilia. Not so cut and dry.

I savoured this book slice by slice, like the key lime pie in my fridge. Beautifully painful, strong, hopeful and tragic, this is a must read memoir.

One of my must reads and favourites for 2014.
Feb 16, 2013 Sherrie rated it really liked it
Enough startlingly clear illustrations of the pain, physical and psychological, that comes with this combination of diseases to seem real. Enough love, hope and joy of life that the story doesn't seem self-pitying or self-indulgent. This is a lovely memoir, a great gift from the author to anyone who would like to understand better, or who had a friend who....
Dec 21, 2014 Christine rated it really liked it
This was so good to the point where I read this in a 24 hour time span. Incredibly eye opening to the world of Hemophilia and HIV. He talks a lot about his vacations in Myrtle Beach/North Myrtle Beach/Cherry Grove and living in Wilmington, NC for quite a bit so I enjoyed reading about my hometowns and city getaways from other point of views.
Mary Anne
Dec 15, 2013 Mary Anne rated it really liked it
Interesting memoir of a man who has hemophilia and HIV. it is not a woe is me book it is more about his journey and figuring out who he is and have to live with his diseases. A very real book and a hopeful ending.
Jun 30, 2013 Diana rated it really liked it
Well written. Made me think deeply about the difficulties caused by diseases like hemophilia and HIV for individuals. Also, about the near miraculous results from new treatments
Apr 29, 2015 Ronna rated it it was ok
The content and basic story in this memoir were engaging. However, the narrative voice just seemed so "flat". It was like it was narrated by that existential French cat.
Diamond rated it really liked it
Apr 17, 2014
Chris Abrons
Chris Abrons rated it it was amazing
Feb 26, 2013
Melissa M. Gillespie
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Emily Boniferro
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Mansfield Public ...: Bleeder Review by Julia Joseph 1 2 Jul 09, 2013 08:52PM  
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