The prettiest star / Carter Sickels.

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  • Additional Information
    • Publication Information:
      First edition.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: "Small-town Appalachia doesn't have a lot going for it, but it's where Brian is from, where his family is, and where he's chosen to return to die. At eighteen, Brian, like so many other promising young gay men, arrived in New York City without much more than a love for the freedom and release from his past that it promised. But within six short years, AIDS would claim his lover, his friends, and his future. With nothing left in New York but memories of death, Brian decides to write his mother a letter asking to come back to the place, and family, he was once so desperate to escape. Set in 1986, a year after Rock Hudson's death shifted the public consciousness of the epidemic and brought the news of AIDS into living rooms and kitchens across America, The Prettiest Star is part Dog Years by Mark Doty and part Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. But it is also an urgent story now: it a novel about the politics and fragility of the body; it is a novel about sex and shame. And it is a novel that speaks to the question of what home and family means when we try to forge a life for ourselves in a world that can be harsh and unpredictable. It is written at the far reaches of love and understanding, and zeroes in on the moments where those two forces reach for each other, and sometimes touch."-- Provided by publisher.
    • Notes:
      Includes bibliographical references.
    • ISBN:
      9781938235627
      1938235622
    • Accession Number:
      2019046338
    • Accession Number:
      on1125274788
      1125274788
    • Accession Number:
      fay.706437

Reviews

Booklist Reviews 2020 February #2

Sickels' (The Evening Hour, 2012) heart-wrenching novel shows how the 1980s AIDS crisis affects one young man and his family. Hailing from small-town Ohio, Brian dreams of making art and getting the hell out of there. His hometown, where kids play smear the queer and the pastor preaches the sins of homosexuality, is no place to come out. But after six years in New York, and the deaths of many of his friends and his boyfriend, he returns home diagnosed HIV-positive. His parents, Sharon and Travis, wash his dinnerware and clothes separately and refuse to tell anyone, including his younger sister, Jess. Brian's grandmother, one of the only people to treat him normally, still believes he is going to get better. As small-town news travels, Brian is vilified, accused of trying to spread AIDS, refused dentist and doctor visits, and shunned, and it tears apart his once close-knit family. The alternating narrators of Brian, Sharon, and Jess are fleshed out in all of their complexities and contradictions. This immersive, tragic book will stay with readers. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Booklist Reviews 2020 February #2

Sickels' (The Evening Hour, 2012) heart-wrenching novel shows how the 1980s AIDS crisis affects one young man and his family. Hailing from small-town Ohio, Brian dreams of making art and getting the hell out of there. His hometown, where kids play smear the queer and the pastor preaches the sins of homosexuality, is no place to come out. But after six years in New York, and the deaths of many of his friends and his boyfriend, he returns home diagnosed HIV-positive. His parents, Sharon and Travis, wash his dinnerware and clothes separately and refuse to tell anyone, including his younger sister, Jess. Brian's grandmother, one of the only people to treat him normally, still believes he is going to get better. As small-town news travels, Brian is vilified, accused of trying to spread AIDS, refused dentist and doctor visits, and shunned, and it tears apart his once close-knit family. The alternating narrators of Brian, Sharon, and Jess are fleshed out in all of their complexities and contradictions. This immersive, tragic book will stay with readers. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

LJ Reviews 2020 April

In Sickels's second novel (after The Evening Hour), Brian Jackson returns to his traditional Ohio home in 1986 to battle AIDS. Once townsfolk discover why Brian is back, the taunts begin; Brian's little sister, Jess, is shunned at school; and people who were once thought of as friends become distant. A scene at the local swimming pool clearly illuminating the community's ignorance regarding AIDS is harrowing. Brian's family reacts to his illness with denial, misunderstanding, and shame, though Brian's mother, Sharon, begins to look at things in a different light. The story is told in alternating chapters by Brian, Sharon, and Jess, but unfortunately all three voices are strikingly similar, and at times Sickels explains the characters' motivations and feelings rather than letting the characters speak for themselves. In addition, the community is portrayed as universally intolerant, and while it's true that the disease was hard to fathom, this depiction seems to distill the gay and straight characters to a simplistic dichotomy of good and bad. VERDICT A touching, sad, and important book, but sturdier editing would have helped to take it to another level. Libraries with large LGBTQ collections will want, but novels such as Rebecca Makkai's The Great Believers and Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty delve into the subject with more success.—Stephen Schmidt, Greenwich Lib., CT

Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

PW Reviews 2020 January #1

A man dying of AIDS returns home to Chester, Ohio, from 1986 New York City in this heartfelt novel from Sickels (The Evening Hour). Brian, a documentary filmmaker whose boyfriend recently died, leaves behind the "ghosts" of the West Village for Chester, "to be seen, to be accepted, and to be loved." As paranoia and fear around the AIDS epidemic escalates, Brian's family finds themselves the targets of malicious gossip and ostracizing, and Brian's presence changes how his sister, Jess; mother, Sharon; father, Travis; and grandmother Lettie relate to each other and to their friends and neighbors. Brian gains additional support from Annie, his best friend from New York and a very out lesbian, who flies to Chester to help brace him from the homophobic taunts endured by him and his family as he documents his experience on video. After Brian feels he's bringing too much trouble to his family, he moves in with a new friend, who eventually invites Brian's grandmother, Lettie, to come and care for him after his condition worsens. Sickels is at his best in his characters' most painful moments, poignantly revealing Lettie's regret of offering Brian too little, too late. This tragic story of AIDS and violent homophobia stands out by showing the transcendent power of queer communities to make their voices endure through art. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Apr.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.