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Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS' Wildfire Days
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Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS' Wildfire Days

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  48 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
When they met, David was a 41-year-old heroin addict, homeless and dying of AIDS. The author was a 27-year-old, self-absorbed, bar-hopping would-be poet--and his caseworker. In 1989, in New York City, there was nothing "manageable" about AIDS, and David would have only eight more months to live. Something about him drew her to him until the boundary between "caseworker" ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 21st 2012 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing (first published October 19th 2012)
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Lisa Marie Gabriel
Feb 02, 2016 Lisa Marie Gabriel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography

Grief is grief whether we are allowed to feel it or not; it is intense whether a sexual relationship exists or not; it is real whether the relationship is open and sanctioned by marriage, blood ties or other formality or whether it is kept hidden for personal or professional reasons.

I was moved to buy and read Holding Breath by a poem that Nancy Bevilaqua had shared on Goodreads. The poem made me cry which is unusual. I am often moved to tears by sad films and classical music, but rarely by poe
Jun 25, 2013 RK-ique rated it really liked it
Holding Breath is a story that operates at many different levels. It is, as the subtitle says, a memoir. However, it is just as much a disquisition on the fallibility of memory. The story is a scrapbook of notes, poems, letters, conversations and scraps of paper with scribbled moments. Memory, aided by imagination, fills in the rest. It strikes me that more than anything else, Holding Breath is a book about a search, like a mystery novel, wherein the writer, Nancy, is going off in search of ...more
Ok where do I start...?
I entered a giveaway on and actually won!!!!

Well firstly I must point out that it is a well-spoken, well written book. . Some might be a little concerned about the counselor, client deal… (It is a little taboo).But hell the man was dying they were both adults let him have his dignity and not die with a home nurse who doesn’t even know him. How impersonal. I would be grateful to know my family was being cared for when everyone else could care less. He is someo
David Biddle
Jul 17, 2013 David Biddle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nancy Bevilaqua has written a memoir of the last days of the 1980s as she lived them. She was young and in love with an older man named David who was a heroin addict and dying of AIDs. This story is tender, desperate, loving, searching, and quietly profound. Holding Breath is the best of what indie published books can be. It is raw, natural and unabashedly lyrical.

The real virtue of independent writing is that it is informed solely by the author’s intent. The language is honest and direct, the
Tom Harvey
Jan 18, 2013 Tom Harvey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I came across this memoir by pure chance - Nancy was offering her memoir for free at the same time I was offering mine free - in one word: WOW!

I'm the type of reader that can start 6 books and finish, maybe, 1 of them. Nancy's story of love - that's really what it is if you had to condense it to a few words - had me reading on the plane, in the rental car, before and after Christmas dinner, every chance I could sneak I snuck.

And while Nancy's story is that of her love and adoration for a man dyi
Mar 13, 2013 Marie rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
from beginning to end Holding Breath made words bring to life Nancy Bevilacqua's unselfish, heartbreaking, and committed love for David, an AIDS patient in the 80's.

At 22 Nancy was a Counsulor for Medicaid. Against company policy Nancy found herself getting attached to David and wanted to take care of him as he was not going to live much longer.

The writer conveyed love in so many ways and words bringing every moment to life. The struggles, the yearning, the happiness they brought each other - ev
Mar 08, 2013 boekverslaafde rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I was really looking forward to reading this book, and a generous friend sent a copy to me, so I immediately sat down to read it.
In the beginning of the book, the author states that she basically compiled all of her poems, journal entries, and other attempts of a somewhat fictional book, and put them together to create this book, explaining what she thought needed explaining, and leaving what she felt didn't need explanation to stand on it's own. Once I read that, I was worried that it would hav
Mal Gormley
Mar 24, 2013 Mal Gormley rated it it was amazing
Alright, this is probably unfair, but I read because my sister wrote it.

But I loved it because it revealed who my sister really is. For many complicated (but not altogether bad) reasons, Nancy & I have had an on-again, off-again relationship over the years. The period she describes in Holding Breath happened when we were out of touch. The last I'd known her she was still a teenager. I knew she was incredibly bright, funny and immensely creative.

We got in touch again not too long ago, but b
May 26, 2013 Wendy rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Touching....poignant.... so emotional. I cannot imagine the pain and grief that Nancy experienced - at the time she was caring for David - or over the years as she tried to come to terms with her pain and love, but still operate in the realm of "acceptable".

Reading Nancy's words - those written now, as she looks back and faces her emotions, and those she wrote during the time living with David and soon after his death - only provides a small glimpse into the love she felt and the pain of losing
Mar 01, 2013 Michelle rated it really liked it
*goodreads giveaway* - this book was so lovely, and yet so difficult to read. on every page, i could feel the author struggling to deal with her loss, with putting the pieces of david's life together, and with the "what if's" of the 8 months she spent with him. i ached for her - for the things that didn't happen, and for the things that did. i'm certainly old enough to remember the wildfire days of AIDS - even in my little rural town, i knew enough about it to be afraid of catching it and ...more
Opal Mellon
Apr 30, 2013 Opal Mellon rated it it was amazing
One of those books I read the blurb and don't want to read because I know it will make me sad, but read anyway because I have to hear this person's story, sad though it may be.
And it is sad. But love often has a sad ending, and that doesn't make it any less beautiful. I think this author was very brave, both with David, and after, and for writing this. It's an important look into David's life, and I think he would feel honored by it. I was touched by his story, and by the authors willingn
Jun 18, 2013 Cate rated it it was amazing
I have just finished reading this book, and very much enjoyed it.

Ms. Bevilaqua writes about, what can be an emotive subject, with compassion and understanding, and not once did she point the finger of blame as can so often occur in this type of book. She treats David's story with all the compassion and dignity it deserves

If you have very strong religious views about AIDS maybe this may not be the book for you.

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Feb 25, 2013 Conny rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I was a First Read Winner of this book and I found it to be not only beautifully written but an extremely touching story. I had a hard time putting it down and I felt like I was living the story with the author. And I think I can say with certainty, Nancy you did David proud. I know that this story will stay with me long after I have put the book away.
Robert Mitchell
Jun 02, 2013 Robert Mitchell rated it it was amazing
As it worked out, I read Nancy Bevilaqua’s Holding Breath immediately after rereading a bunch of Jack Kerouac. The juxtaposition of the two makes it easier to explain why Holding Breath is a “must read.” Both writers captured the essence of their subjects with a combination of autobiography and thinly veiled fiction (which they unveiled at the earliest opportunity). Both writers are permanently and inextricably intertwined with their art. We react not only to the story or memoir; we react to the ...more
Oct 17, 2014 Jennifer rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ona Gritz
Jun 26, 2014 Ona Gritz rated it it was amazing
Nancy Bevilaqua's Holding Breath is a hauntingly beautiful memoir. It's a love story, and a powerful tribute to a man whose heartbreaking and hardscrabble life, and whose losing battle with AIDS in the days when the virus was an imminent death sentence, neither quelled nor masked his kind and tender nature. But what I found most compelling about the book is that it's also a grappling, a writer's grappling. How do we tell the stories that are entrusted to us? How much can we rely on memory, ...more
Andrea rated it it was ok
Feb 15, 2014
Diana Cook
Diana Cook rated it it was ok
Jan 26, 2015
Jovany Agathe
Jovany Agathe rated it it was ok
Nov 30, 2016
Carolyn rated it it was amazing
Mar 17, 2013
ChuckyV rated it really liked it
Oct 11, 2014
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May 06, 2014
Vanessa Rush
Vanessa Rush rated it liked it
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Sep 14, 2016
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Roxanne rated it really liked it
Mar 24, 2016
Sharon To
Sharon To rated it it was ok
Oct 11, 2015
Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Feb 03, 2016
Karl Sharp
Karl Sharp rated it it was amazing
Aug 16, 2014
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Nancy Bevilaqua was born in New York City. After studying English Literature and Creative Writing at Reed College and New York University, she worked for ten years as a caseworker and counselor for people with AIDS, the homeless, and people in drug treatment programs.

She has also worked as a freelance writer, specializing in travel; her articles, essays, and photography have appeared in National G
More about Nancy Bevilaqua...

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