cover image Fighting Back

Fighting Back

Susan Kuklin. Putnam Publishing Group, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21621-3

Photojournalist Kuklin spent nine months following the lives and deaths of Gay Men's Health Crisis volunteers and their clients (the word victim is not used) with AIDS. The result is exactly what the title impliesa realistic, yet moving discussion of PWAs (people with AIDS) trying to live with the disease, and the cross-section of helpers who provide household help and emotional comfort. The strength of the book lies in its real peopleboth volunteers and PWAs hail from across the spectrumgay and straight, men and women, teens. Their backgrounds and feelings are clearly expressed in these pagesa PWA who had led a degrading life of addiction, now rehabilitated; AIDS dementia; a marriage of friendship between a gay and a straight person; volunteers who burn out, drop out of the program (and sometimes return); the prejudice of the AIDS issue, from family and friends. AIDS transmission and prevention are gracefully folded into narrative and dialogue; this is an excellent, com passionate addition to the growing AIDS library that may inspire more people to volunteer. Further, in view of Kuklin's own body of work, this comes across as her strongest, most skillfully wrought project yet. Photos not seen by PW. Ages 13-up. (Jan.)