Publishers Weekly Review (From the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest)

Set in 1984 Washington, DC, this beautifully written manuscript tells the story of Mariah Boone as she cares for her AIDS-stricken older brother, Henry. Henry is approaching his final moments as Mariah struggles to keep him comfortable while she attempts to navigate a rocky personal life. What in lesser hands could have been saccharin and maudlin, is instead smart, funny, and wise. Mariah and Henry are estranged from their parents, but both know that the parents will have to be notified of Henry’s approaching death. Mariah’s other problems — trouble at work, an abusive ex-husband, terrifying dreams — threaten to overwhelm her, but a corps of good friends and an able therapist keep her afloat and functioning as she tends to her beloved brother. The author’s descriptions of Washington, both its geography and the folks who live there, are spot-on, as are the difficult details of caring for a terminally-ill loved one and Mariah’s own complex mental state. This is top quality writing and compelling storytelling, with luminous, fascinating characters.

Tom Glenn, Author, Friendly Casualties

What a satisfying book! The writing is always engaging, never predictable. Henry and Mariah have become my close friends. Best of all, it’s a page turner!

Mary Eccles, Author, By Lizzie

Ellen Kwatnoski has written a Washington novel in which people rather than national politics dominate the scene. It is the mid-1980s, and Mariah Boone is caring for her older brother, Henry, afflicted with AIDS. Mariah’s wit and irreverence will charm you; her struggles to come to terms with the traumas of life, past and present, will make you weep. You’re sure to be thinking of her and kindred spirits from this most original novel long after you’ve read the last page.

2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Expert Reviewer

The writing is steady and mature with a great flow . . . I was drawn into the story and really liked Mariah’s character. I think the secondary characters are well developed and . . . I also loved the Washington setting. 

2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Expert Reviewer

I was interested in the characters, setting and story. I found the dialogue realistic. I . . .  was done before I knew it . . . I was hooked on the story. Overall, I looked forward to each new page as I read.