A Hard Silence: One daughter remaps family, grief, and faith when HIV/AIDS changes it all
"A profound and riveting journey through shame and grief, A Hard Silence is, quite simply, unforgettable." Monica Wood, author of When We Were the Kennedys
In the mid 1980s, Canada's worst public health disaster was unfolding. Catastrophic mismanagement of the country's blood supply allowed contaminated blood to be knowingly distributed nationwide, infecting close to two thousand Canadians with HIV. Among them was Melanie Brooks's surgeon father who, after receiving a blood transfusion during open-heart surgery in 1985, learned he was HIV positive.
At a time when HIV/AIDS was widely misunderstood and public perception was shaped by fear, prejudice, and homophobia, victims of the disease faced ostracism and persecution. Afraid of this stigma and wanting to protect his family, Melanie's father decided his illness would be a secret. A secret they'd all have to keep. They did not know that her father would live past that first year, but he did. And for ten years before his death in 1995, from the time she was thirteen until she was twenty-three, Melanie's family lived in the shadow of AIDS. She carried the weight of the uncertain trajectory of her father's health and the heartbreaking anticipation of impending loss silently and alone. It became a way of life.
A Hard Silence is an intimate glimpse into Melanie's memories of coping with the tragedy of her father's illness and enduring the loneliness and isolation of not being able to speak. With candor and vulnerability, Melanie opens her grief wounds and brings her reader inside her journey, twenty years after her father died, to finally understand the consequences of her family's silence, to interrogate the roots of stigma and discrimination responsible for the ongoing secret-keeping, and to show how she's now learned to be authentic.