“What Looks like Crazy on an Ordinary Day” by Pearl Cleage

Written by Ella

Ava Johnson has HIV and that’s the only reason she knows she shouldn’t be afraid of it. She’s a hairdresser in Atlanta with a long list of clients and lovers. After deciding to write letters to her partners and suggest they get tested, one guy’s wife walks in with the letter demanding Ava “take it back,” as if it’s that simple. Soon enough Ava starts losing customers (as if you can get HIV from a wash-and-set). Ava decides to forfeit the madness and move back to her hometown, Idelwild, Michigan –but the drama only gets worse. 

Who isn’t looking for an escape? I admit that I was looking for an escape as I kept my face in this book. Pearl Cleage’s novel features so many brilliant illustrations of accidental strength. She presents us with a rare glimmer of hope that says, “it’ll all be ok,” even in the face of extreme doubt and pure ignorance.  Sometimes, the best way to escape the harsh realities of life is to walk right up to them and stand up for yourself.

The most beautiful lesson I learned from this book is this: when we are stuck in our personal hells, it is sometimes the most gratifying to help others get out of theirs. Joyce, Ava’s sister, watched her husband drown in the lake in back of their house – he spun around on the ice telling her how much he loved her, then he fell through and never came back up. Now, she spends her days trying to educate uneducated young women on the issues of birth control and sexual abuse. Eddie, a neighborhood carpenter/vegan/friend/war verteran is battling his instincts to kill with no feelings, and becomes the kindest lover Ava has ever had, showing her that today is what matters. Sometimes we need to pull eachother up out of the depths of our miseries, and that’s really the only way out… 

This was a super fast, super emotional and super real read. Although it’s fiction, I learned a lot about HIV, sexual abuse, drug abuse, religion… random things that are good for the soul if enough thought is put in to understanding them. 

If you’re interested in reading, here’s the AMAZON LINK


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