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.


  1. Sounds good, reminds me a little of Cathy Lamb’s latest because she dealt with Aids in that one to some extent and fears of people. It was very big back in the ’80’s I remember it – we were ignorant.


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Karen…The Green Road sounds good.

      I still recall with great vividness our fears in the 1980s…and how everything was so hopeless, or seemed to be. Advances have helped, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who are unaware and ignorant.


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