cover image The Prettiest Star

The Prettiest Star

Carter Sickels. Hub City, $27 (308p) ISBN 978-1-938235-62-7

A man dying of AIDS returns home to Chester, Ohio, from 1986 New York City in this heartfelt novel from Sickels (The Evening Hour). Brian, a documentary filmmaker whose boyfriend recently died, leaves behind the “ghosts” of the West Village for Chester, “to be seen, to be accepted, and to be loved.” As paranoia and fear around the AIDS epidemic escalates, Brian’s family finds themselves the targets of malicious gossip and ostracizing, and Brian’s presence changes how his sister, Jess; mother, Sharon; father, Travis; and grandmother Lettie relate to each other and to their friends and neighbors. Brian gains additional support from Annie, his best friend from New York and a very out lesbian, who flies to Chester to help brace him from the homophobic taunts endured by him and his family as he documents his experience on video. After Brian feels he’s bringing too much trouble to his family, he moves in with a new friend, who eventually invites Brian’s grandmother, Lettie, to come and care for him after his condition worsens. Sickels is at his best in his characters’ most painful moments, poignantly revealing Lettie’s regret of offering Brian too little, too late. This tragic story of AIDS and violent homophobia stands out by showing the transcendent power of queer communities to make their voices endure through art. [em]Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (May) [/em]