cover image Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371

Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371

MK Czerwiec. Penn State Univ, $29.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-271-07818-2

Czerwiec, a registered nurse and cofounder of Graphic Medicine, weaves together multiple threads of nonfiction narratives in this profound graphic memoir of her early years as a nurse and her formative time working at an HIV/AIDS care unit starting in 1994. Around this central strand of a caregiver’s experience, Czerwiec winds personal stories about patients, facts about the day-to-day job of a nurse, and in-depth medical explanations of HIV/AIDS, its effects on health, its treatments, and much more. In the sudden devastation of the AIDS crisis, the LGBTQ people most affected by it were abandoned to one another’s care. Rather than the usual medical tales of professional-minded strangers treating faceless victims, Czerwiec’s vignettes become about bonding intimately over suffering and death, watching the community be decimated at the same time as mutual nursing was building connections. Some of the pages are heart-wrenching, and the story has the potential to be supremely depressing, but Czerwiec wrings hope from the honesty of her simple, cheerful cartooning style. (Mar.)