Set in the 1980s, when HIV and AIDS were greatly misunderstood, and when fear clouded the minds of people who were first aware of it, At Risk: A Novel shows us an ordinary New England family under siege by the terror of the disease.
In Morrow, Massachusetts, Ivan and Polly Farrell are stunned at their eleven-year-old daughter’s diagnosis. Amanda had contracted the virus after a blood transfusion.
A talented gymnast, Amanda’s world collapses from the effects of the disease…but more importantly, from the stigma of it.
What unfolds in this gripping novel is a story that might seem dated in our more knowledgeable times, but it is a stark reminder of what fear and ignorance can do.
Multiple perspectives are offered from Polly, Ivan, and Amanda, with further glimpses from Charlie, Amanda’s brother; Ed Reardon, her doctor; and Laurel Smith, a young medium with whom Amanda feels a special connection.
As I read this story, which can be relevant even now, when one considers anything that ignites fear in others, I felt a full gamut of emotions as I watched this family cope. Recommended for Hoffman fans, as her brilliant prose kept the story moving along. 5 stars.