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April Fool's Day

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,196 Ratings  ·  257 Reviews
In the end, love is more important than everything and it will conquer and overcome anything. Or that’s how Damon saw it, anyway. Damon wanted a book that talked a lot about love. Damon Courtenay died on the morning of April Fool’s Day. In this tribute to his son, Bryce Courtenay lays bare the suffering behind this young man’s life. Damon’s story is one of life-long strugg ...more
Hardcover, 673 pages
Published August 6th 1998 by Penguin Books Australia (first published 1993)
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Best Books Set in Australia
53rd out of 572 books — 372 voters
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12th out of 100 books — 7 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 25, 2009 Collette rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama, courtenay
Wow! I know my eyes are still red from crying as I finished this book this morning before heading to work. Obviously that was not a good choice but what do you do? This is a book so full of courage and love that my words won't do it justice.
Bryce Courtenay writes his son's story of growing up as a haemophiliac who acquires AIDS from a blood transfusion during the time when AIDS was just hitting the news in the states. Damon grew up in Australia so no one really new what it was all about until i
Jun 20, 2015 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
I wasn't writing reviews when I read this. I was blown away by Mr Courtenay's story, the first and only I've read this far. And Damon's. I really loved this book. A relative was one of the first to die of HIV/Aids here and I just hated to see the prejudice (in the story as I was too young to know what was going on around me). I ached for the Courtenay family.
Jennifer (JC-S)
Jan 30, 2011 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer (JC-S) by:
‘Trust Damon to die on April Fool’s Day.’

Damon Courtenay was born on 4 November 1966, and died on 1 April 1991. This is his story, written by his father and published in 1993. Damon was the third son of Bryce and Benita Courtenay and was born with classic haemophilia.

‘Its not a disease, so you must put the idea of a cure from your minds immediately. Haemophilia is caused by a factor missing in your child’s blood, the ingredient which causes it to clot.’
‘It’s not something we can ever fix.’

In 1
Dec 31, 2008 Sunflower rated it it was ok
This book is overly long and tedious in its level of detail. I understand that it is an attempt to make sense of the death of a greatly loved son, but 639 pages filled at times with the minutiae of serious illness does become a challenge to finish.
It is also somewhat dated now, but does serve to show us how things have changed in both attitudes to, and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Hopefully for the better.
(This review is of course not meant in any way to belittle what the family went through, and my
Mar 23, 2009 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay is one of my favorite books of all time, but since he's not big in the U.S., it's difficult to find other books by him. I found April Fool's Day in a used book store, and was excited to read it.

This was a great book, but not in the traditional sense. It's got the same great story-telling feel that Power of One had, but it's completely different because this is the true story of his son Damon's struggle with haemophilia. To stop his "bleeds" he needed regular b
Feb 08, 2011 Bev rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Damon was dead. The book starts with his death, so there is no surprise at the outcome. This is the story of Damon Courtney, a hemopheliac who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion and died at age 24. It is beautifully and sensitively told by his father, one of Australia's best known writers, his girlfriend Crystal, and his mother. I learned more about hemophelia and AIDS than I ever knew and at the end I was sobbing at Damon's death.

This isn't a book you actually "enjoy" but it is an import
Jan 05, 2012 Pmj rated it it was amazing
After having an allergy misdiagnosed as Asthma when I was a child, I avoided doctors as much as I could. I had been prodded with various needles for 4 years and was sick of being sick. The idea of donating blood after all that was not something I felt like volunteering for... Until I read this book. Mr Courtenay didn't pull any punches when it came to describing his own part in the story, which made it all the more powerful. I've been donating blood for the past couple of years now, and will con ...more
Jan 26, 2008 Tanya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tanya by: Simone
I'm not close to done but felt compelled to say ... wow!

Now that's I've finished it ... still wow! Definitely an inspiring story of love and devotion under impossible circumstances. I also enjoyed the Australian "flavor" (for lack of a better word).

If anyone in SD is interested in this, the Central library branch has a copy. It'll be back there within the week, after I turn it in.
An extremely moving book about love, friendship, support, ignorance and prejudices. The death of a son from aids.
Diana E. Young
May 18, 2013 Diana E. Young rated it really liked it
This book, written by Bryce Courtney, is unusual because it is a non-fiction book. Sadly it is a true story about his young son who developed AID’s as a result of an infected blood transfusion, which he received because of his hemophiliac disease. The story is set in Australia, his native home. The narrative is told from different perspectives...Bryce, the father, the mother, the victim Damon and his girlfriend, Celeste. Each adds their own voice to the unfolding of this deadly disease.

It is a s
Dec 26, 2011 Alsha rated it liked it
An admittedly poignant story told in a very bloated fashion. I found myself skipping a lot of digressions and trivia. This is not of course a commentary on the life, pain and experiences the family went through, which are touching in an exceptional way. The amount of medical malpractice they went through is infuriating and saddening. For myself, I simply prefer more conciseness and deliberate focus when it comes to carving a path or a perspective through a story. Depositing everything into a hug ...more
Matthew Bushnell
Having enjoyed many of Bryce Courtenay's books I simply read this one without knowing anything about the plot. It is hard to critique a book that is really an invitation into the life of the Courtenay family as they share the struggles of their son, Damon, a haemophiliac who later develops AIDS as a result of a blood transfusion. I felt privileged to be brought into the journey as Bryce, (and other family members), shared their joys, sorrows, triumphs and griefs in the midst of a very difficult ...more
Jul 16, 2014 Julia rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I've read many novels by Brice Courtenay and have loved them all, so I picked up this book with no hesitation, not realizing it wasn't a novel, but Brice's own account of the life and death of his 3rd son who was born with severe hemophilia, in Australia.

It was hard to read at times, the anguish, fear and dread of seeing your son living with constant bleeds and needing blood transfusions, often on a daily basis. It's hard to live a normal life this way. My son was diagnosed with mild Hemophilia
May 03, 2014 K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the very poignant account of Damon Courtenay, an Australian boy born with hemophilia who came into young adulthood during the years when HIV was first identified. It always struck me as the most horrible of ironies, that the treatment for a debilitating disease (hemophilia) was found to put people at risk for another terribly debilitating disease (HIV / AIDS). This is a powerful, compelling account by his father, mother, and girlfriend (Celeste) of his childhood, young adulthood, and fin ...more
Nov 26, 2010 Alicia rated it it was amazing
No other book as made me want to write to author! This book made me want to do that! I read this book in almost one sitting. You know from the beginning that his son has past on, but I was laughing and crying all the way through. At the end I was a balling mess. This is a true story of the authors son who son contracted HIV+ through a blood transfusion, in the early day of the virus. Please please read this book, if you read nothing else of Bryce Courtney.
I think I've written enough reviews about Bryce Courtenay to give a fairly obvious impression of what I think of him. However, my vague recollections seem to tell me that this one was a little different: more genuine, perhaps. Still sloppily sentimental and with the tendency to romanticise characters, but what Courtenay does have in buckets is compassion, and he uses it liberally here. It's as sad a tale as any and you can't help but feel sorry for the guy.
Apr 19, 2012 Lynn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic-books
This is my all time favourite book!
I read it after having lived in Australia so the context of the narrative was alive to me. A truly moving account as told by the father of a haemophiliac son in the days when the world was first experiencing the Aids epidemic. This is a beautiful story of love, family and never ending faith in humanity.
Unfortunately a really difficult book to get hold of now or I'd buy it for all my friends as a must read!
Apr 14, 2015 Jacinta rated it really liked it
A deeply personal story from a stellar writing talent. An insight into the harrowing experiences of the Courtenay family around the life and death of son, Damon, who, while receiving blood transfusion to manage haemophilia, contracts HIV. Courtenay describes Damon's journey, couched in the unwaivering love and support of his partner, Celeste, his family, and friends. A labour of love and breathtaking tribute.
Antonia Jackson
Dec 21, 2015 Antonia Jackson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written, warts and all book based on author's third son, Damon and his health battles. Liked the inserts into the story by the key characters. Excellent descriptions of Rozelle Psych Centre, the range of health professionals and family life when illness strikes. Bit of pomposity with private schools, first class travels, renovations, life of advertising personnel, and the highly strung wife. I don't think a book would have been written if the family was working class, there was no Damo ...more
Jun 21, 2014 Billy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
April Fool's Day, about the life and death of Bryce Courtenay's son, is a powerful emotional novel that is difficult to read at times because of its heavy subject matter. Bryce Courtenay confronts the malpractice of the blood banks in Australia that led to the infection of haemophiliacs with HIV. He is both critical and respectful of the medical profession, not surprising given his extensive experience with it. He treads a fine line in creating the characters of his wife Benita, and Damon (his s ...more
Sarah Newton
Jul 02, 2014 Sarah Newton rated it it was amazing
This book is incredible. So sad and tragic, be prepared for lots of crying. Learned so much about blood and illness. Really wish it was a work of fiction
Nicky Hirst
May 15, 2015 Nicky Hirst rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book, very emotive and thought provoking. Based on his own experiences of watching his son battle illness. This is a book that has stayed with me over the years owing to the hard hitting story and one which I have in turn recommended my teenage daughters to read. You can tell that Bryce Courtenay is an accomplished journalist but the overwhelming feeling after reading the book is compassion for those whose journey is covered in the book. It is certainly one of those books I feel everyone ...more
Gabe Segal
Apr 16, 2016 Gabe Segal rated it liked it
April Fool’s Day is a sad book. Not sad in the romantic sense; the type of life-experience sad that may appeal to some. This book is sad in the most depressing sense of the word possible. The type of sad you hope to never experience. Bryce Courtneay writes a harrowing account of his youngest Son’s short life, punished by unimaginable physical illness.

While I will admit there were parts of April Fool’s Day that bored and repulsed me, I am glad I held on. Courtenay’s book gave me an understanding
Amanda Jane
Jul 01, 2014 Amanda Jane rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written!
Make sure you are a box of tissues whilst reading.
Denise DeRocher
Feb 23, 2013 Denise DeRocher rated it it was amazing
About his son dying of AIDS - powerful, heartbreaking, worth reading more than once.
B the BookAddict
Sep 18, 2013 B the BookAddict rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aussie-author
Courtney at his most honest and his best. 5 ...more
Wilma Rebstock
Oct 14, 2014 Wilma Rebstock rated it really liked it
Shelves: australian
APRIL FOOL'S DAY is a very sad but true story,
Jan 12, 2014 Joanne rated it it was amazing
Karen O'Brien-Hall
Mar 09, 2014 Karen O'Brien-Hall rated it it was amazing
Often when I hear of a death I think, it will be a big night in Heaven tonight when they meet up with their loved ones who arrived before them. When Bryce Courtenay died in November 2012, I immediately thought “he is reunited with Damon”.
Damon Courtenay, son of Bryce and Benita, aged only 24, died on 1st April 1991 from medically acquired AIDS. Damon was born with the blood condition haemophilia and contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion.
Damon attempted to write the book himself, but on hi
Jun 11, 2011 Julie rated it really liked it
I have long wanted to read this book. It is a most compelling read and an interesting insight into not just Damon's life but that of the plight of those with AIDS. I felt there were strong similarities between "The Mighty Damon" and the main character, Peekay, of the Power of One (who I found to have little credibility and to not be a very believable character). That aside I thoroughly enjoyed the book and as always when reading a biography I find the complex dynamics of the family and friends a ...more
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I was born illegitimately in 1933 in South Africa and spent my early childhood years in a small town deep in the heart of the Lebombo mountains.

It was a somewhat isolated community and I grew up among farm folk and the African people. At the age of five I was sent to a boarding school which might be better described as a combination orphanage and reform school, where I learned to box - though less
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“The time we are given for parenting is so short, passes so quickly and is jumbled up with so many other priorities and disruptions that, in the end, we come to doubt that we used it in the best interests of our children.” 2 likes
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