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Sarah's Song: A True Story of Love and…

Sarah's Song: A True Story of Love and Courage

by Janice A. Burns

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I read Sarah's Song back when it was published in 1996. I don't usually re-read books, but this one came back to my attention recently, so I decided to re-read it.

Janice Burns and her husband Bill were typical 1980's yuppies except for one difference: Bill had contracted HIV during a prior same-sex relationship, and unknowingly passed the virus along to his wife. In both of them, the infection rapidly progressed into full-blown AIDS (this was before the widespread use of protease inhibitors made HIV infection a long-term, manageable condition). Together they suffered through a variety of infections that robbed her of her hearing, him of his memory, and both of them of the opportunity to become parents ("Sarah" is the name Janice gave a child she thought she may have conceived, but it turned out to be a false alarm. The odd part is that the "Sarah" was never Bill and Janice's child; the "Sarah" incident occurred before Janice even met Bill).

Even though the writing occasionally veers into mawkishness (in sentences like "We pretended to be married because we wanted so badly to be," p. 226), I found this (again) to be an intensely moving book. Janice exhibits none of the anger I know I would feel if my husband transmitted a deadly virus to me. "At first I wanted [Bill] to apologize, to take the blame upon [himself], beg me for forgiveness...But it took me a long time to acknowledge that apologies can only be given for deliberate actions. [Bill] never meant to hurt me. This is why I no longer need to hear the words: "I'm sorry." (pp. 228-229). I don't know if it is a mark of saintliness that she is able to forgive him for essentially taking her life, or if she needs to believe that she and her husband had the love of the century because she sacrificed so much for it. ( )
  akblanchard | Sep 29, 2014 |
This is a touching story of a young couple who marry and shortly thereafter the husband, Bill finds out he is HIV positive. When his wife, Janice is tested she is infected too. The story follows their lives, their illnesses and hospitalizations. They continue to work and advocate for those inflicted with the AIDS virus. Throughout all this is their enduring love for each other. ( )
  dara85 | Mar 11, 2008 |
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