In Halfway Home, Paul Monette, the National Book Award winning author of Becoming a Man delivers a "fast-paced novel that swings between humor and tragedy, high camp and lowdown realism, gays and straights, winners and losers, people who are dying and people who are afraid to live" (Los Angeles Times).
Halfway Home centers around the story of thirty-four year old Tom Shaheen, an actor living with AIDS in southern California who has been forced to retire, because of his illness, to an isolated beach house. Tom's peaceful existence is shaken to the core when he receives a sudden and unexpected visit from his brother, Brian, a former high school football hero who, well-loved and athletic, was Tom's exact opposite while growing up. Brian's visit turns out to be more than Tom bargained for--Brian is seeking safety and sanctuary for himself and his family because of shady dealings in his contractor business back in Connecticut.
In the midst of dealing with his brother's crisis, Tom begins to bond deeply with his landlord. Gray--a connection that evolves into a bittersweet love affair, inspiring hope that there can be a life after AIDS.
Halfway Home is "an exceptionally honest and expressive work...a satisfyingly sane novel about living in an insane time" (The New York Times Book Review).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A perfect balance of humor and drama, this novel is one that proves to be as powerful as it is entertaining. From the first chapter, I was so wrapped up in the characters and the twists of the story that I had difficulty putting it down for even minutes at a time. At moments, you think the subplots and development are easily predicted, and Monette's flawless storytelling then surprises you again. Admittedly, there are moments in the beginning where it seems like Monette might veer toward a character trait or twist for shock value, or in a turn of didacticism, but those early moments are entirely passed by once the characters begin to become more clear and the plot pick up. Certainly, this book isn't for every reader, but I'd like to think that it should be, and so I recommend it whole-heartedly--it should be read. There's little doubt in my mind that this might end up being my favorite read of the year, and that the engagement and power here make it a book to be reread and remembered at large. Absolutely recommended.
Halfway Home by Paul Monette It's 1991 and Thomas Francis Shaheen (Tom) is living with Kaposi Sarcoma, a lethal complication (at the time) from HIV/AIDS. He has retired to die at the beach house owned by Graham Cole Baldwin (Gray) of the Baldwin family who owned most of California from Malibu to Santa Monica. There Tom meets Mona McMahon (Mona) and alongside Gray, they become a family. Growing up as a child, Tom was abused by his father and brother. "I'm an only child." was Tom's mantra. One day, out of the blue, Tom's abusive brother, Brian, walks into his life. Amazingly, Brian is now more accepting of Tom's lifestyle and demonstrates affection for his younger brother. After Brian leaves, there are news hat Brian and his family have been killed. It turns out that Brian was involved in a corruption case with his construction company's partner, Jerry Curran (Jerry). Brian turns on Jerry and Jerry burns out Brian's house. But Brian and his family had escaped alive. Brian reappears back in Tom's house with his wife, Susan, and son, Daniel. Escaping from Jerry, they are being protected by the FBI. Brian is testifying against Jerry, in exchange for a plea deal with minimal jail time. For the first time in his life, Brian needs Tom's help. And help is what Brian gets. Brian has become a beaten man. In his bitter wife, Susan, and sensitive son, Daniel, Tom can see the pain of his own past. Brian must help his brother, while he deals with a new love relationship with Gray. To do so, he enlists Kathleen Towney, an ex-nun who runs the women's shelter and the gay and lesbian friends who have nurtured him. Tom has to mend his own fences and heal wounds that had never closed. The book ends with Tom finding a way back to the theater to perform his signature piece, Miss Jesus, as a metaphor of opening himself to the love that may heal him.... The book is narrated from the first person point of view. It takes you back to the days of the plague and it's a beautiful story of love and redemption. It is a story that tries to find meaning to the madness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It reads in a day or two. However, for those of us who lived the epidemic, it can open old wounds...