Carter Sickles’ touching novel ‘The Prettiest Star’ is an AIDS novel. I remember there was a time when there were a lot of these kinds of stories – stories of gay men during the late 80s and up to the mid 90s affected by the plague. I used to devour these kinds of stories – these were the stories of our lives then. But things got better. Advances in medicine made the plights less urgent. Still, there are a lot of stories left unwritten, and I am glad Sckels wrote one.
The=is is Brian’s story, from Chester Ohio. After his lover Shawn dies, he goes back to his hometown of Chester, Ohio – to reconcile with his family, but really, to die. This is still 1996, though, wherein middle America still does not know much about the disease, and he faces discrimination and judgement.
The story is told from different points of view: from Brian himself, from Sharon, his mother, and also from Jess, his sister. I thought the voices were a little too close to each other’s, but the points get told. It’s a sad story of people’s intolerance based on ignorance. I would like to believe people now are more educated about AIDS but this story is a good snapshot of what was happening then. I was into the story deeply, and found myself deeply affected by it, probably reading the book during the pandemic did not help.