Raw and haunting… a powerful story.
Mullaly’s incisive and sharply written YA contemporary combines individual struggles, trauma, and teen romance. Living with HIV is not always easy, but seventeen-year-old Aly Bennett is managing just fine, with Luke Harrison and Caroline Reese, her best friends, by her side. But when the district attorney from Boston asks Aly to testify against her childhood tormentor in a new case, the things become complicated: Luke and Caroline know Aly has HIV, but they have no idea how she got it. Her lie will come to surface if she testifies in the court. But not testifying will allow her tormentor to walk away free again. Mullaly is excellent when it comes to creating memorable and multidimensional characters who are easy to root for. Watching Aly deal with her inner turmoil while trying to search for some measure of justice for the unnamed young victim is empowering. Aly’s bond with Luke and Caroline is endearing. The novel’s pacing is smooth, and the tight, assured prose keeps the pages flying. Mullaly weaves teenage drama, familial tension, tentative romance, enduring friendships, and themes of guilt, trauma, childhood abuse, and HIV stigma through the story, as Aly struggles to make the right choice. From the novel’s first few lines, Mullaly conveys the emotions with sensitivity and subtlety, laying bare Aly’s complex inner turmoil right up until the novel’s deeply satisfying finale. Relevant and deeply poignant, the novel leaves lingering, contemplative questions about childhood sexual abuse and stigma associated with HIV. Mullaly has delivered a winner.
Life and Other Complications
By Heather Mullaly
Favored Oak Press
Pub date July 5, 2021
Price $24.99 (USD) Hardcover, $12.99 Paperback, $5.99 Kindle edition