Review: Caregiver by Rick R. Reed

Friday, June 8

Title:  Caregiver*
Author:   Rick R. Reed
Series: N/A
Genre: M/M Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Format: Ebook, paperback
Date/Year:  October 2011
Reviewed by:  Andrea

*This book was borrowed by the reviewer from her local library for her reading enjoyment

Summary from the publisher:

It’s 1991, and Dan Calzolaio has just moved to Florida with his lover, Mark, having fled Chicago and Mark’s addictions to begin a new life on the Gulf Coast. Volunteering for the Tampa AIDS Alliance is just one part of that new beginning, and that’s how Dan meets his new buddy, Adam.

Adam Schmidt is not at all what Dan expected. The guy is an original—witty, wry, and sarcastic with a fondness for a smart black dress, Barbra Streisand, and a good mai tai. Adam doesn’t let his imminent death get him down, even through a downward spiral that sees him thrown in jail.

Each step of Adam’s journey teaches Dan new lessons about strength and resilience, but it’s Adam’s lover, Sullivan, to whom Dan feels an almost irresistible pull. Dan knows the attraction isn’t right, even after he dumps his cheating, drug-abusing boyfriend. But then Adam passes away, and it leaves Sullivan and Dan both alone to see if they can turn their love for Adam into something whole and real for each other.

My Musings:

Have you ever read a book that put your life on hold, one that wrapped you so totally in the story and the characters that you felt a part of it, one that you knew your life would be forever changed after reading?  Caregiver was that book for me. 

It's a love story in the general sense but I think a better way of saying it is that it’s a story of love.  It’s a deep, dark, semi autobiographical look into the life of a gay man during the height of the AIDS epidemic.  I was just an oblivious kid when this was going on and Rick Reed was able to convey the fear and horror during that time in a way I never before comprehended.   He told a painful and heartbreaking story but the emphasis on the love and support the characters had for each other was what really drew me in.  The book is so well written and the characters so well developed that I forgot I was reading a book, the characters and their lives became real for me.

Caregiver is the story of Adam and Dan.  Adam is HIV positive.  He knows he doesn’t have much time left.  Adam lives with his partner Sullivan.  They have had a difficult relationship over the years with periods of separation but through it all they never questioned their love.  They always knew they were meant to be together.  Adam is scared and depressed.  Sullivan adores Adam and wants to be there for him but has no idea how to help or what to do.  Sullivan is living in his own hell.  He’s dealing with the terror of contracting Adam’s disease and the knowledge that he can’t bring himself to give Adam the unconditional care and love he needs.  This has created a lot of tension in their relationship.  Adam is lonely and desperately in need of a friend so he contacts the Tampa AIDS Alliance to ask for a buddy.

Dan is Adam’s buddy.  Dan has recently moved to Florida with his lover Mark.  Mark is an addict.  His lying and cheating have ravaged Dan’s self-confidence.  Dan is just as lonely and in need of a friend as Adam.   Dan and Adam meet and quickly form a bond.  They are both starving for love and companionship and they fulfill that need for each other.  Their friendship grows stronger as Adams death approaches.  After Adam passes, Dan discovers the depth of love Adam truly had.  One of Adam’s last acts was to bring Dan together with the love of his life.  At that point, the book shifts to focus on their romance.

My heart absolutely broke for Adam.  He was funny, quirky and had such a vibrant personality that I couldn’t help but love him.  Adam became a real person who lived and died to me.  He became a friend I loved and mourned.  I am amazed at how deeply this book affected me.  I’ve been known to tear up over a book or two but this is the first book I’ve ever had to put down because I was sobbing.  It’s heartbreaking but also inspiring at the same time.  I have to say a huge “Thank You” to Rick Reed for sharing this story and allowing me a glimpse into a time and place I never would have experienced otherwise.  I loved it and will never forget it.


Overall:  5 stars
Sensuality level:  2.5

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lorimeehan June 17, 2012 at 12:06 AM  

Thank you for sharing your review for this book. I'm defiantly going to find this book to read.

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