Charity's Reviews > The Great Believers

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
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it was amazing

I was nine years old when our class learned about Ryan White and about all of the ways that you could---and couldn’t---get AIDS. I'm grateful that I lived those times in a part of the country that was more humane about HIV/AIDS, that the messages I got about the virus were about compassion and prevention rather than about fear and blame, but I realize that it also left me somewhat naïve about how the situation was in the rest of the country. This novel helped remind me that homophobia wasn’t isolated to my extended family in northeast Ohio and that the perspective I got as a fifth-grader in southern California was the exception rather than the rule.

Of course, this novel isn’t just about HIV/AIDS, and it isn’t just about the gay community in Chicago in the 1980’s. It’s about friendship, love, hope, and how our personal lives and the history we’re living intersect. Makkai breathes life and individuality into her characters and paints a vivid picture of each of the times and locations in the novel, giving a sense of eternity, of time folding in on itself. We are going to screw up, Makkai's story reminds us, but we have the chance to learn and do better in the future. That sounds trite and obvious when I put it like that, but I find it hopeful nevertheless and a sentiment that bears repeating again and again.

This novel is what A Little Life could/should have been.

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Reading Progress

September 29, 2019 – Started Reading
September 29, 2019 – Shelved
October 1, 2019 – Finished Reading

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