A Hard Silence: One daughter remaps family, grief, and faith when HIV/AIDS changes it all


Product Details

Vine Leaves Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.75 inches | 0.8 pounds

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About the Author

Melanie Brooks is the author of 'Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma' (Beacon Press, 2017). She teaches professional writing at Northeastern University and narrative medicine in the MFA program at Bay Path University in Massachusetts and creative writing at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire. She earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast writing program. Her work has been published in Psychology Today, the HuffPost, Yankee Magazine, the Washington Post, Ms. Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, and other notable publications. Though her Canadian roots run deep, she lives in New Hampshire with her husband, two children (when they are home from college), and two Labs.


"A book with a universal message of love, and the courage every single one of us needs to navigate our way to personal, familial, and communal healing." Michael Patrick MacDonald, author of All Souls: A Family Story from Southie

"Those of us whose family members were contaminated by HIV/AIDS around the same time shared her feelings, the agony of family secrecy and the fear of stigmatization." Vic Parsons, author of Bad Blood: The Unspeakable Truth

"Brooks is that rare writer who can delve as deeply into the world of ideas as she can the pitted terrain of the human heart." Andre Dubus III, author of Townie

"Fills me with a sense of urgency, gratitude, and awe." Abigail Thomas, author of Still Life: The Next Interesting Thing

"This beautifully rendered memoir asks important questions about the complexities of loss and grief, the roots of stigma and shame, and the courage necessary to endure that resonate in this new and unfortunate age of social exclusion." Richard Blanco, author of The Prince of los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood

"Movingly depicts the long toll of stigma and the healing power of words." Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder & A Memoir

"A profound and riveting journey through shame and grief, A Hard Silence is, quite simply, unforgettable." Monica Wood, author of When We Were the Kennedys

"In this important and profound narrative, Brooks chronicles what gets us all through times of grief: love, empathy, even vulnerability. And, most importantly, nurturing a sense of wholeness, even as it slips from us." Sue William Silverman, author of How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences

"In this gripping, lovingly recounted memoir... Brooks shows us ... that often it's in the re-telling that we can finally put our grief down and be freed." Susan Conley, author of Landslide

"Promises a new resource for the growing field of narrative medicine by recounting the physical and spiritual dimensions of medical crisis in first person." Kim Stafford, author of Singer Come from Afar

"Illuminates not only a historical page, but an existential one." Baron Wormser, author of The Road Washes Out in Spring: A Poet's Memoir of Living Off the Grid

"This book is a gift." Timothy J. Hillegonds, author of The Distance Between

"Tender and thought-provoking ... gives each of us permission to speak about the ache of deepest grief." Jessica Handler, author of Invisible Sisters

"Brooks writes with both daring and restraint about learning the language of loss and breaking the silence she grew up in during the 1980s and 1990s HIV/AIDS crisis." Kyoko Mori, author of Yarn: Remembering the Way Home

"Brooks takes us to fresh air found past that suffocating veil. Exquisitely written with big bravery and big heart." Suzanne Strempek Shea, author of Songs from a Lead-Lined Room

"An indelible portrait of love and loss in this brave exploration of the grief that was her constant companion after the death of her beloved father from AIDS." Marianne Leone, author of Jesse: A Mother's Story and Ma Speaks Up

"Superb, heartfelt memoir... I could not put it down." Jerald Walker, author of Street Shadows

"Stands as an indictment of attitudes that add shame to suffering, that make struggling families hide, consigning their stories to silence. With artistry and courage, Brooks has turned that silence into this restorative, revelatory, and beautiful book." Richard Hoffman author of Half the House

"A testament to the complex truth that our entitlement to grief is about so much more than loss and pain." Jaed Coffin, author of Roughhouse Friday