Title: LIFE AT THE DEATH HOUSE
Author: SEAN E.D. KERR
Cover Art: NATASHA SNOW
Genre: FICTION, LGBTQ, LITERARY FICTION
Length: 410 PAGES
Publisher: NINE STAR PRESS
Received From: NETGALLEY
Release Date: AUGUST 20, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-949340-51-8 (EBOOK)
ISBN: 978-1-949340-55-6 (PRINT)
Price: $6.99 USD (EBOOK)
Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The locals call it the Death House, but Carol and Marco designed the New Life House as a home for kids to live, safely removed from the stigmas and judgments of the outside world.
Seventeen-year-old Tyler arrives on the doorstep, hoping that he’s finally found a safe place to die. His arrival causes the other kids to question the futures they’ve been promised, and Carol and Marco must convince them there is life after diagnosis.
Even through struggles with addictions and questions of sexuality, the residents could come to believe in the possibility of living.
This book contains sexual content, which may only be suitable for mature readers. It also contains mature themes such as death, dying, suicide, drug use and more.
It’s called the “New Life House,” but the locals have their own name for it – they call it the Death House.
The answer is somewhat complex, but also quite simple. In the late 90s (which is the era when this story takes place) HIV and AIDS were still relatively new diseases and the general populace were spectacularly uninformed.
Rumors were rampant and many people thought that you could catch HIV just by touching an infected person. It was known as the “gay disease” since many of the infected came from the lgbt community.
In 1997, at the age of seventeen, Tyler arrived at the New Life House. “Strange name for a death house, he’d thought. The name just didn’t make sense to him. There was no new life for people like him. There was only death and loneliness. And pain. That’s all there was.”
Imagine being only sixteen and finding out you have a disease with no cure and a near 100% fatality rate. Now, add to this – your family kicking you out of the house and calling you terrible, hurtful names. As if those two things are not bad enough, now add another issue – the fact that you know nothing about this disease other than the fact it is going to take your life. You believe that anyone you touch (even just to give a simple hug) will also become infected, so you swear off physical contact completely. That is one heck of a burden to place on anyone, nevermind on a young teenager.
The longer Tyler and his housemates live at the New Life House, the more they learn – not only about their disease, but about each other, about themselves and about the selfless couple who made the house a reality.
I loved learning about each of the house’s residents and their backstories, including what led to them living away from their families and coming to reside in the New Life House.
I love that there are so many themes examined in the pages of this book. I love the fact that author Sean Kerr does not shy away from topics that might make certain readers uncomfortable. He tackles the issue of homophobia with the depth of feeling that I believe only an LGBTQ author could achieve. I am proud to say that the author is Canadian and I cannot wait to read whatever he writes next.
With heart-wretching prose, authentic characters and a story ripped straight out of the headlines of the 1990s, this book should be at the top of everyone’s MUST READ list.
*** I would like to say a special thank you to both NETGALLEY and the Publisher for providing me with an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of this book. ***
“Marco was wearing blue jeans and a Nirvana T-shirt. He looked like an old guy who hadn’t accepted his age yet.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sean holds a diploma in Professional Writing from Algonquin College (Ottawa, Canada, 2009). He found his love of writing at the age of ten when he released his first miniseries via Duo-Tang folder to his family and friends. He has another four novels outlined and is working on draft one of a fifth.
In December 2016, he launched the Pontiac & Ottawa Valley Writers’ Circle under the umbrella of the Pontiac Artists Association (PAA). He continues to coordinate the efforts of the POVWC and is enjoying the blossoming of a strong creative writing community.
Sean writes a wide range of genres with a particular focus and interest in literary and upmarket fiction. He specifically enjoys writing stories that deal with how people react to hardships, exploring how they come through them for better or for worse. It’s the experiences and choices that change people that intrigue him the most. Common themes include addiction, mental health, sexuality, grief and hope.
To learn more about this author, visit the following links:
ABOUT THE COVER ARTIST:
Professional Designer of Book Covers.
I’m a 28 year old graphic designer turned professional book cover designer living in Edmonton, Alberta.
I graduated from Grant MacEwan University studying Graphic Design with a major in print, which has helped me time and time again when designing (you guessed it) print books.
Since graduation, I’ve worked at a few places as a graphic designer, ranging from working in identity and branding, to advertising for a major company in Canada.
In September 2016, I left my corporate job in advertising to start my own business only designing book covers. I’d found my passion in life, and knew there wasn’t anything else I wanted to do.
To this day, I’ve designed books from many genres, including romance, thriller, horror, LGBTQ, M/M, young adult, middle grade, fiction and non-fiction, and many more.
When not designing book covers (and let’s be honest, that’s practically never), I enjoy playing video games, reading, and pretending I know how to cook something besides toast.
To learn more about this artist, visit her website HERE.
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