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April Fool's Day

by Bryce Courtenay

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5361338,164 (3.89)13
Bryce Courtenay's moving tribute to his son, Damon. Damon Courtenay died on the morning of April Fool's Day. In this tribute to his son, Bryce Courtenay lays bare the suffering behind this young man's life. Damon's story is one of life-long struggle, his love for Celeste, the compassion of family, and a fight to the end for integrity. A tragic yet uplifting story, April Fool's Day is controversial, painful and heartbreaking, yet has a gentle humour. It is also life-affirming, and, above all, a testimony to the incredible regenerative strength of love - how when we confront our worst, we can become our best. April Fool's Day will change the way you think.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
The life of Damon, Bryce Courtney's son, who was a haemphiliac, who through medical misadventure received HIV virus which inturn lead to the AIDS Virus. It is Damon and Celeste story of love and devotion through all the trials and tribulations of such a debilitating disease. ( )
  AngieMargi | Mar 8, 2013 |
April Fool’s Day was a book I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read initially for several reasons – I don’t read as much non-fiction as fiction, surely Bryce Courtenay’s talent lay in fiction and it was probably out of print. Enter a Popular Penguin edition and an edict from my mother that I must read this book and she knew I would enjoy it immensely. I started reading this on my daily commute but soon I was hooked. Such a powerful story – all completely true, you can’t make up this sort of thing and an incredibly emotional, harrowing journey for the Courtenay family.

I always respected Courtenay as a writer before this, but after reading this book, I have the utmost respect for him overall. The story of his son Damon, born a haemophiliac who contracted HIV through a blood transfusion and later died of AIDS related complications is compelling for so many reasons. Damon was a brave battler and his strength while living through chronic pain, bleeding and countless infections is to be commended. The rallying of the Courtenay family and Damon’s partner Celeste around him is a testimony to the strength of the loving family (from going along with Damon’s delusions to taking him to the hospital on many occasions). This book is a celebration of life and love – the good, the bad and the ugly.

From a medical point of view, this book is also exceptionally interesting for several reasons. One, to read about diseases, hospitals, doctors and treatments from the patient and family point of view was an eye opener. The way Damon was treated on occasions by medical ‘professionals’ was awful. Secondly, to read about the medication side effects from the actual effect on the patient – also interesting. What may be classed as minor to those not taking the drug can have a huge effect on the quality of life on the person (such as Damon and diarrhoea with AZT). Finally, it was amazing to see the comparison between HIV and AIDS treatment today and in the late 80s / early 90s when Damon was being treated. So much progress has been made and I felt so sad that if this had happened 20 years later, it may be Damon telling his whole story, rather than his father.

It was also interesting to see how attitudes to the gay community have changed and how more widely educated the public is about HIV and AIDS. (Damon was mistreated by nurses who mistakenly thought that AIDS equals gay. Thank goodness we have moved on from that.)

Bryce Courtenay is brutally honest in this retrospective of his son’s life. He laments of the lack of time spent with his kids in the early years (due to a job in advertising that really does sound a little Mad Men-esque) and losing his temper when perhaps he shouldn’t. These made me as the reader warm to him more – it’s not a rose coloured view. I hope it was cathartic for him to write this.

The ending was a tear jerker. Despite you knew it was coming, it didn’t make it any easier. It was lovely to read the postscript from Celeste and her life post-Damon.

In short, April Fool’s Day has it all – the happy times, the funny times, the awful times and the sad times. What a lovely thing for a father to create for his son.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | Dec 24, 2011 |
NIL
  rustyoldboat | May 28, 2011 |
Hard book of a boy who is born with haemophilia and the hardships he has to deal to lead a "normal" life.
It's a tough book, was hard to finish. ( )
  Luli81 | Oct 24, 2010 |
Bryce Courtenay is a talented, acclaimed writer. To see him write truthfully and so personally, as a father and on behalf of his son Damon in this book, is an experience you will never forget. It is not an easy book to read. You might shed tears but you will also be touched by its strength and courage, steadfast love and care. This brave book gives a moving voice to fortitude. ( )
  StoryB | Aug 31, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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This is Damon's book and it is

for Benita

and for

Celeste, whom he loved

with all his heart.

To his love and gratitude I add my own.
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Bryce Courtenay's moving tribute to his son, Damon. Damon Courtenay died on the morning of April Fool's Day. In this tribute to his son, Bryce Courtenay lays bare the suffering behind this young man's life. Damon's story is one of life-long struggle, his love for Celeste, the compassion of family, and a fight to the end for integrity. A tragic yet uplifting story, April Fool's Day is controversial, painful and heartbreaking, yet has a gentle humour. It is also life-affirming, and, above all, a testimony to the incredible regenerative strength of love - how when we confront our worst, we can become our best. April Fool's Day will change the way you think.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0143004603, 0143566563

 

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