Readers’ Reviews from Amazon and Goodreads
A book that will make the problems in your own life look small
John Gaudet, November 2018, Amazon.com
What has changed over the past few years, as pointed out by another reviewer of Richardson’s book, is that AIDS is no longer an automatic death sentence, “partly because of more widespread scientific knowledge but largely because those who can access antiretroviral drugs (dispensed free to infected men and women in many countries) can often live a normal life.”
One of the common themes that runs throughout the book is that, as the author says, it is relationships with others which generally sustain people. Another common theme is that people so affected become more aware of what’s happening around them, they begin to enjoy simple things in life like sitting in the middle of London watching the red buses go by, waking up and seeing the sunshine, looking at flowers, seasons changing. And as one person put it, “…thinking, God, I’ve made it –.”
Greg Thompson, 29 October 2018, Goodreads
An evocative tribute to the experiences of people with HIV and AIDS in the 1980s; to their suffering and to their strength of spirit. A collection of historical value and a reminder of the cruelty inherent to ill-informed, fear-driven prejudice that is just as relevant today.
Read this book. Listen to the stories of the people who contributed to it. Feel their experiences. Find the opportunity to learn from their wisdom in the way you live your life and the ways in which you relate to others.
This book is so important
Amazon customer, 8 March 2018, Amazon.com
This book is so important. I have no words to explain how important this book actually is.
It’s not the first time I read a book that deals with AIDS and HIV, but it’s the first time I read a book where so many different experiences with them are shown. That’s one of the main things I take away from this book: diversity.
This book shines light on how AIDS and HIV do not target a certain group of people, that it can affect anyone. It is based on interviews done to people at a meeting for HIV-positive people. The good thing about that is that we get experiences from people from all over the world, so their experiences have to be different from each other’s. It’s been interesting to see how different cultures react to the same thing and deal with it.
There is something about the fragments that make them even more personal and real: the fact that the authors kept some mistakes that non-native English speakers would make. That showed to me that the texts were not altered to look a certain way, so everything that is written comes from specifically those people. This might be like a weird point to make but, personally, I think that it’s important to keep the essence of the people who are talking about something so personal. Furthermore, those mistakes do not lead to miscommunication, so they are not really that big.
The best part about this book is that every person that is interviewed has had a different experience. Therefore, we see how different people with different backgrounds (culture, education, sexuality, etc.) talk about how they live with knowing they are HIV-positive. Everything that is depicted here is very real: we see doubts, hope, carelessness, etc. We see a full scope of feelings and reactions. We also see that not everyone affected is a young adult, there are children and adults too.
To be honest, one of the most surprising (and amazing) things about this book is that it gives hope to people in that same situation. It validates people’s feelings from being suicidal to wanting to live life fully. Normalizing all those feelings is important to make people feel like what they feel is not wrong. All throughout the pages you can see that there is a message of hope, of resistance, but the thing is that that message is spread through different experiences and it’s not just about facing HIV straight away and not being scared.
I don’t really have the words to properly explain how important this is. I just hope more people read it and learn a bit more about the virus.
Goran M, 9 My 2018. Amazon.co,
I saw the first version of the book many years ago. Unfortunately, despite many positive changes related to medical aspects stigma and discrimination are still part of everyday life for people living with HIV/AIDS. This book is excellent and very powerful, giving a lot of relevant information that anyone might need.
Must read, if you are interested in this topic.
Read it to understand beauty of life
Bookstogo, 4 December 2017. Amazon.com
Then love me now.
Don’t look for tomorrow
And don’t ask me how.
I can’t give you a guideline
It is your love,
It is you.
There are too few books like this
Anastasia, 9 January 2018. Amazon.com.
This book describes unimaginable amount of ignorance, fear and pain. Men, women and children, small babies dying of a mysterious disease and no one knows what it is and no one has the cure for it.
“A giant ‘Infection’ was written above her name. She was asked to use a separate toilet from the other women, which had a red ‘Control of infection’ notice on it. She was miserable, frightened and scared for her children. I realised what was happening and complained.The attitude was ‘Oh, we know HIV isn’t contagious, but we must follow our old guidelines.'”― Ann Richardson, Wise Before Their Time
There was a trilogy I read some time ago called Torka aldrig tårar utan handskar (Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves). I think the title of the book is enough to describe what the trilogy is about. And my point is that there are too few book like this. In Wise Before Their Time, there’s a story of mother and her young daughter Daisy. She was just learning to speak. A little bit late in walking. Then when she is sixteen months old, she stops walking.
My doctor had to inform the funeral directors that she’d died of an infectious disease. So when they came, they came in these suits and gloved. They just wrapped her in a plastic bag and took her away. And, well, it just was too much for me. I couldn’t cope, I just had to run out of the room.” ― Ann Richardson, Wise Before Their Time”
A book full of incredibly brave people writing their heartbreaking stories on what it was like to live with HIV and AIDS. I warmly recommend this for everyone.
A powerful read
I’m old enough to remember the fear, misinformation and some might say hysteria over the emergence of HIV and AIDS in the 80s, although I was too young to understand it at first. In this book dozens of people from all over the world speak about their experiences of being diagnosed with HIV in those early days – so this is an important document. In their own voices they talk about their fears for the future, their issues around telling their families and friends, their relationships, attitudes to sex and spirituality. It’s at times heartwarming, but always with an underlying sense of sadness. It’s not, of course, an easy read. I would have liked to have known how their stories ended – but the author, unfortunately, was not able to contact the speakers decades on. I also think the book would benefit from including more information about how attitudes and treatments have changed since it was originally written.
A historically and culturally invaluable book!
Ken Johnson, 8 January 2018. Amazon.com.
This book’s intrinsic historical and cultural value is invaluable. Essentially a revision of a previous edition, it provides insights and historical accounts which would otherwise be lost to time. Simply due to technological advances, we have changed much as a society… therefore we have also forgotten much. These historic interviews are not only rare but also remarkably candid for their era. At times, the stories were alarming. No matter your feelings and beliefs on this disease, you owe it to yourself to read this book!
NOTE: A copy was provided to me in return for a fair and honest review.
PeaceLoveHope, 11 January 2018. Amazon.com
Wise Before Their Time is an enlightening compilation of individual stories and thoughts from those infected with HIV. Many/most of these accounts are from the early era of AIDS and it saddened me to see how fellow humans treated one another. I was particularly disturbed by the story about a baby dying from the disease. Though there are also messages of love and hope throughout, I feel the book is a good educational tool about the stigma of the virus when not much was understood about it. An important read.
Throughout this book you will read stories of individuals whom have HIV and AIDS. Each story will touch your hearts in different ways. Many will tell you how they found out they got the disease, how they told their families, what life is like for them now, etc. You will learn that it is not just a gay disease and that even babies can get this. After reading these stories you will never look the same at this disease the same way again.
‘Wise Before Their Time’ was first published in 1992 and focuses on the everyday lives of people suffering with HIV/AIDS. Victims talk about how they found out about their disease, their thoughts and feelings at the time of diagnosis, and the effect the HIV diagnosis had on their immediate families.
Reading it over 25 years later it’s plain to see how ignorant the public were at that time regarding not only HIV/AIDS, but also how victims of the disease were treated. There are heartbreaking stories of people losing their livelihoods once they admit they are HIV positive. However, the book is not all doom and gloom – there are many inspirational stories here from sufferers who feel very well and enjoy living life to the full.
Of course these days, treatment options have increased the lifespan for the majority of HIV sufferers, and being HIV positive is not necessarily the death sentence it once was. AIDS victims were always in the news back in 1992, but a quarter of a century later it’s hardly mentioned at all.
Recommended for those who would like to delve a little bit into the early days of HIV/AIDS.