Wednesday, June 17, 2009
My Own Country - Abraham Verghese
I have been trying to read more non-fiction recently so when I saw that they had this at the university library I picked it up. I have been reading it for almost a month now..picking it up and putting it down. This is not because it isn't a good book but because it is really a gut wrenching read.
Publishers Weekly description of My Own Country states, "Nestled in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee, the town of Johnson City saw its first AIDS patient in August 1985. Working in Johnson City was Abraham Verghese, a young Indian doctor specializing in infectious diseases who became, by necessity, the local AIDS expert. Out of his experience comes a startling, ultimately uplifting portrait of the American heartland."
This was a really well written book. It was more about this mans journey through the HIV/AIDS crisis in a small town when no one had ever seen it before. It was interesting to read about Tennessee from a foreign doctors perspective. When I started reading the book I forgot that it takes place in the 1980's when prejudice and just basic lack of information made people with HIV/AIDS have very few resources and help. I have read quite a bit about HIV/AIDS in my life. I had volunteered and worked at an AIDS organization in a small community when I finished high school. Since then I had read more about HIV/AIDS internationally, especially in Africa. It was different to read about the effect of HIV/AIDS in a rural American town. I liked that Abraham Verghese included people of many different backgrounds into his story - people that had contracted the disease through homosexual and heterosexual sex, as well as through blood transfusions. It showed that diseases like HIV/AIDS can be contracted any type of person.
I found the stories sad. Most of the people ended up dying - I had to keep reminding myself that people who had HIV/AIDS in the 1980's usually didn't live very long because of the lack of medicine and research. I felt for the doctor because of all the sadness he had to see everyday and how that affected his home life. Abraham Verghese helped so many people when no one else wanted to take the responsibility.
I would recommend this book to people who want to learn more about the beginnings of HIV/AIDS and also if they want to know some stories of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Rating - 4