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Affliction: Growing Up with a Closeted Gay Dad

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In 1937, at the age of nineteen, Ralph Hall, suicidal, revealed his sexual orientation to his grandmother, knowing she would comfort him. Out for three years afterwards, an indiscretion then sent him back into the closet. At twenty-four, while in the army, he met and married Irene. The couple made their home on the San Francisco Peninsula and had four children. Ralph was a In 1937, at the age of nineteen, Ralph Hall, suicidal, revealed his sexual orientation to his grandmother, knowing she would comfort him. Out for three years afterwards, an indiscretion then sent him back into the closet. At twenty-four, while in the army, he met and married Irene. The couple made their home on the San Francisco Peninsula and had four children. Ralph was an attentive husband and father – albeit with an intense interest in interior design, flower arranging, and fine objects - and a diligent worker who rose to payroll accountant at Standard Oil. It wasn't until 1975 that Ralph came out to his middle daughter, Laura, telling her that he had once considered his sexuality an aberration, an affliction. She was shocked, as the possibility her father might be gay had never crossed her mind. Irene knew Ralph's secret for eighteen years, but the two remained married until she died. It was only then, by now in his eighties, that this charismatic man and devoted father could freely express his authentic, gay self. Here, Laura paints a vivid and honest portrait of her beloved father and the effect his secret had on her own life.


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In 1937, at the age of nineteen, Ralph Hall, suicidal, revealed his sexual orientation to his grandmother, knowing she would comfort him. Out for three years afterwards, an indiscretion then sent him back into the closet. At twenty-four, while in the army, he met and married Irene. The couple made their home on the San Francisco Peninsula and had four children. Ralph was a In 1937, at the age of nineteen, Ralph Hall, suicidal, revealed his sexual orientation to his grandmother, knowing she would comfort him. Out for three years afterwards, an indiscretion then sent him back into the closet. At twenty-four, while in the army, he met and married Irene. The couple made their home on the San Francisco Peninsula and had four children. Ralph was an attentive husband and father – albeit with an intense interest in interior design, flower arranging, and fine objects - and a diligent worker who rose to payroll accountant at Standard Oil. It wasn't until 1975 that Ralph came out to his middle daughter, Laura, telling her that he had once considered his sexuality an aberration, an affliction. She was shocked, as the possibility her father might be gay had never crossed her mind. Irene knew Ralph's secret for eighteen years, but the two remained married until she died. It was only then, by now in his eighties, that this charismatic man and devoted father could freely express his authentic, gay self. Here, Laura paints a vivid and honest portrait of her beloved father and the effect his secret had on her own life.

30 review for Affliction: Growing Up with a Closeted Gay Dad

  1. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    Affliction: Growing Up with a Closeted Gay Dad is a poignant, thought-provoking memoir about the effects of a man’s hidden sexuality on his family. Laura and her siblings loved to hear her parents talk about their romantic first meeting and whirlwind courtship at the cusp of WWII. But as she grew older, she realized there were many things different about her father and her parents’ marriage, many questions that were never answered to her satisfaction. In 1975, when Laura was a 24-year-old moth Affliction: Growing Up with a Closeted Gay Dad is a poignant, thought-provoking memoir about the effects of a man’s hidden sexuality on his family. Laura and her siblings loved to hear her parents talk about their romantic first meeting and whirlwind courtship at the cusp of WWII. But as she grew older, she realized there were many things different about her father and her parents’ marriage, many questions that were never answered to her satisfaction. In 1975, when Laura was a 24-year-old mother on the verge of a second divorce, she was trying to figure out why she had trouble with commitment and fidelity. She suspected her father had been a womanizer through her life, and it impacted her and the way she viewed love, fidelity, and commitment. But when she asked her father whether he cheated on her mother, his answer surprised her: he was gay. Laura Hall’s tremendously powerful memoir is the story of a man forced into a different life than the one he wanted, and the impact of that decision and his struggles with living the life he chose despite his desires. It’s also a look at the way gay people were treated during those times, how following their heart and libido could ruin their lives for good and, of course, endanger their safety. The book also looks at her parents’ relationship through the years, how it changed and fractured and was rebuilt as both tried to come to terms with her father’s desire to live as his true self. At the same time, it’s an account of how our parents’ lives impact the way we grow up and pursue relationships of our own. Affliction really moved me. I know there was a time in the late 80s/early 90s as I was struggling with my own sexuality that I wondered whether I should try to live a “normal life” instead of acknowledging the reality of being gay. I’m glad I didn’t but I understand why so many men and women made the decision to hide their true selves and live a life that was more acceptable to society and those around them, at least in those days. Thanks to Laura Hall and She Writes Press for the complimentary advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review!! Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Reading_ Tamishly

    For one thing I was sure of when I started reading the first line of the prologue of this memoir: I know I was going to love this memoir for all its honesty and whatever it had to offer. I love the writing and the writing feels close like it's confiding in me the various tales the family got to tell. Content warnings for homophobia and bullying. I love reading about the vivid childhood memories of the author. Some experiences are quite hilarious to read about while some things reveal memories that For one thing I was sure of when I started reading the first line of the prologue of this memoir: I know I was going to love this memoir for all its honesty and whatever it had to offer. I love the writing and the writing feels close like it's confiding in me the various tales the family got to tell. Content warnings for homophobia and bullying. I love reading about the vivid childhood memories of the author. Some experiences are quite hilarious to read about while some things reveal memories that are quite uncomfortable to remember about. I love reading about the bond between the father and the daughter. However, I quite adore the author's mother for who she's been throughout the entire narration. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how innovative the father is and how energetic he got whenever he had a new idea regarding their house and a new fashion idea for his wife and his daughter. The memoir gives a very detailed view of the days the family had to go through during those difficult times of shifting frequently, living with a secret and difficult relationships. Reading this book made me realise so many things about life that's not all rosy and perfect yet this read gave me the truth that no matter what family is what matters throughout. Such a beautiful book. You will love the writing. You will feel vividly what the family went through all these years. A unique memoir indeed. It defines courage.

  3. 4 out of 5

    R.J. Sorrento

    What I enjoy about memoirs is learning about the past in a personalized manner. Laura Hall did a beautiful job of telling her family’s story and the impact her dad being a closeted gay man had on her life. Coming of age during the the birth of the gay rights movement in San Francisco, Hall weaves in details about Harvey Milk, the AIDS crisis, and police action taken against gay men. This doesn’t read as dry and dense nonfiction because Hall relates it back to her father and their family. I also What I enjoy about memoirs is learning about the past in a personalized manner. Laura Hall did a beautiful job of telling her family’s story and the impact her dad being a closeted gay man had on her life. Coming of age during the the birth of the gay rights movement in San Francisco, Hall weaves in details about Harvey Milk, the AIDS crisis, and police action taken against gay men. This doesn’t read as dry and dense nonfiction because Hall relates it back to her father and their family. I also appreciated her mentions of gender expression and how she had taken varying approaches as a child before she had a name for it, and that she felt more empathy for others because she looked at life from multiple perspectives. As a queer parent myself, I hope to pass on empathy and kindness to my two children as well. Thank you to the author for the paperback ARC. This is my honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Medhat The Book Fanatic

    I was kindly sent an ARC of "Affliction: Growing Up With A Closeted Gay Dad" by the author Laura Hall and her publicist, Sabrina--in exchange of an honest review. Affliction has surprised me. A LOT. I do not read that many family memoirs, but given that I committed myself to the author, I decided to give the book a go. I started it on the day it came out, July 13th, and within 9 days only found myself very immersed into the 40s, 50s, 60s and way into the 2010s that in one day only I read exactly I was kindly sent an ARC of "Affliction: Growing Up With A Closeted Gay Dad" by the author Laura Hall and her publicist, Sabrina--in exchange of an honest review. Affliction has surprised me. A LOT. I do not read that many family memoirs, but given that I committed myself to the author, I decided to give the book a go. I started it on the day it came out, July 13th, and within 9 days only found myself very immersed into the 40s, 50s, 60s and way into the 2010s that in one day only I read exactly 221 pages. This portrait that Laura Hall has painted of her childhood, her growing-up years, and adulthood, is simply beautiful. What is even more heartwarming is the endless love that she has for her father. Through her words, the reader is able to taste this feeling of longing, appreciation, and also of guilt, and the author lets you go through these feelings in multiple levels, shying from no hidden details. This memoir opens up with the author in her 20s where she is asking her father a very critical question that she had always wanted to ask. Knowing what was coming, my heart kept speeding in my chest . . . because really, how would you feel if your father told you something that he kept as a secret all these years. Laura handles it very well and her love for her father never dwindles, but keeps growing. I have to say that I preferred the latter years when Laura is a grownup and felt more intrigued with what happening then than while I was in the earlier years. We learn so much about her father, his secret life, his regrets and dreams, and we get a clearer vision of his personality, most especially during his last days. This book I must admit contains a lot of pain, and as the family witnessed more than one tragedy, my heart trembled in my chest and I cried so hard as I read these parts when my Grandfather passed away on July the 15th. Laura's moments with her mom, especially the last ones, broke me so hard that I was able to taste her sorrow. One last thing I need to mention before ending this review is that I have greatest respect for the author for being exceptionally honest, including when she talked about herself, her early pregnancy, her affairs and shame, and I couldn't be any more prouder when she finally decides to grow and become the person she is now.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ryan S

    Thank you to the publicist who sent me an ARC of this book for an honest review. I should probably start out saying I relate immensely with Ralph/Duane. I, too, came out later in life after being married to a woman for 13 years and having two kids. Our split was not related to my coming out; that happened later. However, as we know, it's something there, always under the surface. The circumstances were different. Historically it was a different world obviously. What was a crime then is no longer Thank you to the publicist who sent me an ARC of this book for an honest review. I should probably start out saying I relate immensely with Ralph/Duane. I, too, came out later in life after being married to a woman for 13 years and having two kids. Our split was not related to my coming out; that happened later. However, as we know, it's something there, always under the surface. The circumstances were different. Historically it was a different world obviously. What was a crime then is no longer--my second marriage to a man is fully legal. Geographically, we are very different. They were in California; I was in the Bible belt section of the Midwest. I hid my sexuality deep down (though probably not nearly as successfully as I'd like to imagine), but Ralph lived a double life where he remained tangentially active in the gay community for a large chunk of his life. Laurie--as she's called in the book--discovering that second existence is the central conflict of this book. As she so eloquently stated it, "I was born the child of a closeted gay father. After he came out to me, I became the closeted child of a closeted gay father.". So much of her suffering came from the weight of being the gatekeeper and guardian of this secret: her dad was gay, her mom knew, her siblings did not, and her parents continued a strained relationship for decades after mom found it. She couldn't understand how or why. The writing is compelling and easy to read. The chapters are short and digestible. The photos really help, though in my copy they were relatively small and fuzzy. In full disclosure, it had a tough start for me: kind of like a lawn mower that doesn't start on the first pull. But 25 pages in, it seemed to catch and hum along. I liked that it was not just tragic, as so many memoirs have become. This could be any American family after you peeled back the veneer: functionally dysfunctional. And as she acknowledges in the end, the global mentality is shifting. Not hard enough or fast enough maybe, but shifting nonetheless. Bravo!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    This is an honest, frank family memoir written in an easy to read narrative non-fiction style about the author's upbringing. It features parents who married during WWII - a recent high school graduate and a man who'd already run from the love of his life in order to survive, four siblings moved around the city as economics dictated, a teenage pregnancy, three divorces, and a seemingly sudden coming out of father to daughter in the mid 70s. Laura didn't take everything perfectly. Not everything sh This is an honest, frank family memoir written in an easy to read narrative non-fiction style about the author's upbringing. It features parents who married during WWII - a recent high school graduate and a man who'd already run from the love of his life in order to survive, four siblings moved around the city as economics dictated, a teenage pregnancy, three divorces, and a seemingly sudden coming out of father to daughter in the mid 70s. Laura didn't take everything perfectly. Not everything she reports is how someone of my generation would hand things. But this is a story she needed to tell, and it appears she did that with an open heart and a love for her complex, utterly human family members. She also sent this ARC in return for an honest review. I talk about this book in this BookTube video.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ali Bunke

    Laura's father was born in 1918. He knew his sexuality from a young age. Laura's father, Ralph, longed to rebel, although social constriction prevented him from doing so. By the time became out to Laura in 1975, Laura was twice divorced, twenty-four, and a single mother struggling to make sense of how her family could have had so many secrets. The author captures what it was like for her father to grow up in the early 1900'sand feeling like he was the only person who felt the way he did. During Laura's father was born in 1918. He knew his sexuality from a young age. Laura's father, Ralph, longed to rebel, although social constriction prevented him from doing so. By the time became out to Laura in 1975, Laura was twice divorced, twenty-four, and a single mother struggling to make sense of how her family could have had so many secrets. The author captures what it was like for her father to grow up in the early 1900'sand feeling like he was the only person who felt the way he did. During that time, LBGT+ people were not accepted by most of society and were forced to live in secret. Her father had many secrets. But this story isn't Ralph's alone. It is about Laura and what her life was like growing up in a family that had so much hidden. Something about her parent's relationship felt insecure, and it affected her deeply. As she moves through a retelling of the past, we see how it manifested in her personal anxieties, night terrors, migraines, and promiscuity. Once Laura's father comes out to her, she feels she has taken on the secret as her own and is living in the closet herself. She struggles with wanting to know her father's story and his hidden life, and wanting happiness for her mother. During this time, Laura finds herself in the middle of her parent's unbelievably complicated marriage. I am incredibly impressed with how honest Laura was with the details of her family. I could feel the turmoil she was experiencing. Wanting happiness for her father and her mother, but knowing the societal constraints of the time they were living. This story needed to be told

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I don’t always give memoirs a star rating. But I will give this one all the stars because it’s not just one person’s stories and experiences but rather that of a whole family, a family who had to live their life around a secret. This was an emotional read. Hall was very honest about her feelings and her life but also focused a lot on her father’s life and their relationship. It was the kind of story that sticks with you and it’s going on my favorite memoir list.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bookscamilla

    I didn’t really know what I expected of this memoir, but I am still surprised by how much I ended up loving it. There’s so much depth to this story. This memoir tells the story of Laura Hall and her growing up with a closeted gay dad. But this is not only about her father Ralph’s story but also about the whole family. We hear about Laura’s childhood memories and life throughout the years, the marriage between Ralph and Irene (Laura’s mother), the bond between Laura and her father, LGBTQIA+ rights I didn’t really know what I expected of this memoir, but I am still surprised by how much I ended up loving it. There’s so much depth to this story. This memoir tells the story of Laura Hall and her growing up with a closeted gay dad. But this is not only about her father Ralph’s story but also about the whole family. We hear about Laura’s childhood memories and life throughout the years, the marriage between Ralph and Irene (Laura’s mother), the bond between Laura and her father, LGBTQIA+ rights in the US and so much more. This was an overall amazing experience. This memoir is well written, honest, raw and it was easy to read. I loved the photographs throughout the book which I think only added to overall the experience. I enjoyed getting to know Laura Hall’s family. I’ve experienced so many different emotions while reading it. It’s a memoir filled with emotions; Sometimes it made me laugh and sometimes it made me cry. I am glad that I had the chance to read this very moving memoir and I'm also very grateful that Laura Hall wanted to share it with us. I’d recommend this fantastic book to everyone. I would also even recommend it to those who usually don't read memoirs. Thank you Laura Hall and her publicist Sabrina Dax for sending me an ARC.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Monica | San Fran Literary Gal

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⚡️4.5/5. A beautiful and compelling family memoir, worthy of more attention! Many thanks to Laura Hall, Sabrina Dax and @shewritespress for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review. “I thought I was the only person in the world afflicted with my condition.” Born in 1918, Laura Hall’s father lived the majority of his life as a closeted gay man with a wife and four children. This multi-layered story is about her father and what it was like to be gay during that time period (in a word ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⚡️4.5/5. A beautiful and compelling family memoir, worthy of more attention! Many thanks to Laura Hall, Sabrina Dax and @shewritespress for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review. “I thought I was the only person in the world afflicted with my condition.” Born in 1918, Laura Hall’s father lived the majority of his life as a closeted gay man with a wife and four children. This multi-layered story is about her father and what it was like to be gay during that time period (in a word, it was heart-breaking). It is about her mother, who discovered her husband’s deception after just a few years, but decided to stay in the marriage for better or for worse. And it is about secrets. Secrets that were kept from Hall, secrets that Hall was asked to keep, and secrets that caused Hall and her family a lot of mental, physical and emotional anguish that Hall continues to make sense of and work through to this day. I loved how honest this book was, its unique point of view, and the way that it weaved in the political and cultural history of San Francisco from the 50s 60s and 70s. I live a couple of towns away from where the author grew up and I work for an LGBTQ nonprofit in San Francisco, so it was easy for me to connect with this story and I’m sure it will stay with me for a long time to come. The family photos that are included really added something special! This book is not just for the queer community — everyone will gain something from it. I think it would be a fantastic book club pick. I highly recommend this memoir and will be putting this into the hands of as many people as I can!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Collins

    The invisible members of the LGBTQIA+ community are their children, and their stories are completely unique because of the ways homophobia has haunted every pore of their family's life and history. Laura's story is particularly special because her father was aware of his sexuality at a young age at a time (the 1930s) when it was almost impossible to live a queer existence. The most intriguing element to this story is the time in which it took place, mostly over the course of the 50s, 60s and 70s The invisible members of the LGBTQIA+ community are their children, and their stories are completely unique because of the ways homophobia has haunted every pore of their family's life and history. Laura's story is particularly special because her father was aware of his sexuality at a young age at a time (the 1930s) when it was almost impossible to live a queer existence. The most intriguing element to this story is the time in which it took place, mostly over the course of the 50s, 60s and 70s, up to the present. As Laura and her family evolve and yet cannot fully evolve with the times is fascinating to examine, heartbreaking to witness, and somehow triumphant to read. Laura is an excellent writer that paints these times and her family dynamics with a sharp, yet gentle brush.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Holly (bibliophiles_bookstagram)

    Life is hard for any family. Money, careers, and children all take its toll on every one of us. We have hardships and hard times. Now imagine being a gay man in 1950, marrying and having children because you know you can’t be who you really are. Trying to make everyone else happy and content besides yourself. I can’t even imagine what life was like for Ralph. Let’s pretend you’re married to a man who is gay. You are in love with him, and want him to be the husband and father that you have always Life is hard for any family. Money, careers, and children all take its toll on every one of us. We have hardships and hard times. Now imagine being a gay man in 1950, marrying and having children because you know you can’t be who you really are. Trying to make everyone else happy and content besides yourself. I can’t even imagine what life was like for Ralph. Let’s pretend you’re married to a man who is gay. You are in love with him, and want him to be the husband and father that you have always dreamed of having. But he’s not. He loves you in a different way, and you, too, sacrifice your happiness for him and your children. I can’t imagine what life was like for Irene. No imagine growing up in a family like this, finding out when you’re 24 that your dad is gay, and your mom stayed with him to keep your family whole, together and happy, yet you weren’t completely happy either. I can’t imagine what life was like for Laura and her siblings. My heart hurts for Laura. My heart hurts for her mom, Irene. My heart hurts for her dad, Ralph. The life they had was one difficult one indeed. The sacrifices they made incredible. And love for one another indeed strong. Thank you for your honestly! Thank you for this raw account of your family’s struggles! Thank you for writing this to get in everyone’s hands to read!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Valentina

    Affliction is a powerful memoir about LGBTQ+ issues and rights, depression, happiness, sadness and most importantly, about family. Laura Hall has written down her biography mixed with her father’s one in a unique way; we find Laura’s painting of her life, from her childhood to her sixties and at the same time, she narrates her father’s history: his childhood, his teenage years with the coming out to his grandma, the acceptance of his sexual orientation and the closet after his troubles, his marr Affliction is a powerful memoir about LGBTQ+ issues and rights, depression, happiness, sadness and most importantly, about family. Laura Hall has written down her biography mixed with her father’s one in a unique way; we find Laura’s painting of her life, from her childhood to her sixties and at the same time, she narrates her father’s history: his childhood, his teenage years with the coming out to his grandma, the acceptance of his sexual orientation and the closet after his troubles, his marriage during WWII, his life as a closeted dad and husband and finally his coming at peace with his true self openly. I had huge expectations about this book, I’m not gonna lie: the topic is really interesting and I’m a big fan of biographies. The hype wasn’t disregarded at all: Affliction is a deep, honest and loving recollection of detailed memoirs, it’s both heartbreaking, considering the conditions of the invisible members of the LGBTQ+ members and their families, but at the same time full of hope and kindness, as we are shown through Laura’s words and her grandchild’s ones. This moving, emotional, well-written journey through Ralph and Laura’s life and their father-daughter bond has been incredible, I couldn’t recommend it enough. A must-read, indeed. A big thank you to Sabrina Dax, Laura Hall and She Writes Press for sending me and Advance Reader Copy in exchange of an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    On_a_sandbar (Carol)

    Affliction is a touching memoir about a topic that is not widely discussed, growing up with a closeted gay father. Laura always knew that her father was more artistic and different from the other dads in the neighborhood. What she didn’t fully realize until age 24, in 1975 was that her loving father, married with four children, was gay. Her dad, discloses this to her and for many years, she is the only one who shares this secret with him, with the exception of one person … her mother. This is su Affliction is a touching memoir about a topic that is not widely discussed, growing up with a closeted gay father. Laura always knew that her father was more artistic and different from the other dads in the neighborhood. What she didn’t fully realize until age 24, in 1975 was that her loving father, married with four children, was gay. Her dad, discloses this to her and for many years, she is the only one who shares this secret with him, with the exception of one person … her mother. This is such a descriptive telling of growing up in the 1950’s and’60’s, including living with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1967 “Summer of Love”. So much social and political history during this turbulent time. This is ultimately a memoir of family, love and acceptance. If you’re a memoir reader, this is one to pick up!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    I believe that this book is an eye-opening experience to those (myself included) who are growing up now in a time where, for the most part, it is okay, accepted, and encouraged, to be open about yourself and your identity. We know the history of the Gay Rights movement in the United States but this book is a first and second-hand story of growing up in a closeted life. I very much enjoyed reading this book and would absolutely recommend it. The story flowed really well and it was a joy to see al I believe that this book is an eye-opening experience to those (myself included) who are growing up now in a time where, for the most part, it is okay, accepted, and encouraged, to be open about yourself and your identity. We know the history of the Gay Rights movement in the United States but this book is a first and second-hand story of growing up in a closeted life. I very much enjoyed reading this book and would absolutely recommend it. The story flowed really well and it was a joy to see all the pictures sprinkled throughout. Laura went through such a journey of deciphering her parents' love for each other and her love for her parents. Even though her parents had an interesting relationship, she showed us that they were very much there for her and her siblings. Honestly, the hardest part of this story was seeing her mom be embarrassed about her husband. I do understand the generation and the way society was at the time did not make this easy but it hurts to read, to know that was the vibe behind the scenes.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Renee (The B-Roll)

    This is one of those books that more people should read for several reasons. First, the writing is splendid and really captures the time period and the overall feeling of how LGBT+ people were not quite accepted and were forced to live in secret. This book will put some things in perspective and open your eye to what it could feel like to live a life that is not what you truly want and a life that is expected of you from everyone else. Second, that historical importance is made clear in this boo This is one of those books that more people should read for several reasons. First, the writing is splendid and really captures the time period and the overall feeling of how LGBT+ people were not quite accepted and were forced to live in secret. This book will put some things in perspective and open your eye to what it could feel like to live a life that is not what you truly want and a life that is expected of you from everyone else. Second, that historical importance is made clear in this book as it does set the scene and make you think about acceptance and how hard life must have been then. This is also a pertinent story because it outlines and details the author's father's experience and helps us remember that everyone deserves a happy life, regardless of what their sexual preference may be. Third, this story is so touching and rich with emotion. I loved reading this book and being able to connect to the author and her story, while also being able to read a part of her childhood that she wanted to share. I'm excited to see what everyone else thinks of this book because I did enjoy it. We need more stories like this one.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mario’s Library

    Affliction by Laura Hall It was pretty impressive to read this family memoir by Laura Hall. It’s a fascinating read just because every chapter of the book is giving you something new, something interesting and every page is packed chock full! The relationship between Laura and her father is for me unique, provoking and well-written. Laura Hall is using her eclectic choice of words in describing everything in such beautiful details. While reading the book I wanted to know more! It’s a very moving Affliction by Laura Hall It was pretty impressive to read this family memoir by Laura Hall. It’s a fascinating read just because every chapter of the book is giving you something new, something interesting and every page is packed chock full! The relationship between Laura and her father is for me unique, provoking and well-written. Laura Hall is using her eclectic choice of words in describing everything in such beautiful details. While reading the book I wanted to know more! It’s a very moving and honest memoir. The author takes you on a lifelong journey. I felt so many emotions. It’s hard to pin down how I actually feel about it. I’m recommending this book to everyone! It’s hard to see how people struggle to find what they are and who they are. It takes courage to talk with someone especially at that time when people didn’t understand things. We are all equal! Thank you @laurahallwriter @sabrina_dax_pr for sending me ARC for Affliction it was really nice to read the book. This journey will stay with me for some time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    Review also posted on insta @mrsandmrsjreadgay We've been discussing this book with each other for days, and it's still firmly in our heads. We're not ready to let go of it. It's thrown up so many emotions, so many questions; we know we'll continue thinking about Affliction for years to come. We immediately fell in love with the Hall family and were completely drawn into their loving home and Laura's childhood. Her dad is someone we wish we could've met, not because he was gay, but because he wa Review also posted on insta @mrsandmrsjreadgay We've been discussing this book with each other for days, and it's still firmly in our heads. We're not ready to let go of it. It's thrown up so many emotions, so many questions; we know we'll continue thinking about Affliction for years to come. We immediately fell in love with the Hall family and were completely drawn into their loving home and Laura's childhood. Her dad is someone we wish we could've met, not because he was gay, but because he was a gentle soul, highly intellegent, a lover of gardening and there's such tenderness from Laura as she writes. From the very start, you can feel how much she adores her family. We're endlessly grateful for this book, because it's in memoirs we get to know people a little without ever actually meeting. Growing up, Laura heard the fairytale-esque story of how her parents met and fell for each other. Her world is shattered when her father comes out to her, by which time she is already an adult with a daughter of her own. Laura always believed her father was simply 'a modern man', who compared sports stars to ballet players and had a sharp eye for style, but he was always searching for something more; a bigger house, a better job, enough money to buy beautiful clothes for his family and artwork for the home. As much as he adored his family, he was constantly looking for... something. That something was the authentic life that he was denied. In his youth, he was living as 'out' a life as was possible for the time, and shared a home and his heart with Stanley, who can only be described as the love of his life. After being arrested, Duane began going by his middle name, Ralph, as he could no longer bare to live as a gay man after the treatment he'd recieved. He enlisted in the army, and met Laura's mother shortly after. Sprinkled through the book are phrases of wisdom from Duane, that within their context are ordinary, but when removed and viewed as a singular statement seem profound like; in relation to new cordless kitchen appliances "They can't see value in something that isn't traditional" and of flowers growing in harsh climates: "Over time they adapted to a hostile environment. They had to, or they wouldn't have survived". After finishing the book, Steph sent a message to the author. One of the things Steph said was "I couldn't work out if this was a happy or sad ending". Laura replied that even though there is sadness, the story is one of  "resilience and love and kindness".  That really is the best way to describe it. Although it was a life he was forced into, he still found joy. He was devoted to his children, and in his own way, he did love his wife. This book was warm, brave, beautiful, moving, incredibly honest and somehow broke our hearts just as much as it warmed them. A must read - we reccomend keeping tissues at hand when you do. TW: homophobia, police being police, discussions of HIV & AIDS, cancer. Brief mention of what may be an implied consideration of suicide.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shradha

    There is only one reason and one reason only why I was tempted to give this book four stars before reconsidering: the tragedy that the publication date is only a little late from Pride Month. The book itself is an absolute delight to read, both insightful and heartbreaking in the story it tells. It is apparent that the author crafted this story mostly as a love letter and tribute to her father. The titled "closeted gay dad" is a man who struggles with himself and his family, on one hand being d There is only one reason and one reason only why I was tempted to give this book four stars before reconsidering: the tragedy that the publication date is only a little late from Pride Month. The book itself is an absolute delight to read, both insightful and heartbreaking in the story it tells. It is apparent that the author crafted this story mostly as a love letter and tribute to her father. The titled "closeted gay dad" is a man who struggles with himself and his family, on one hand being devoted to his children and to a certain extent his straight wife, on the other hand being drawn to the openly gay life he briefly had before losing it to the prejudices and homophobia of the early twentieth century. His struggle to live physically by assimilating and live emotionally by rebelling in small and subtle ways makes for an emotional read. What I really appreciate however, is the balance the author provides by portraying the negative side of her father. He is no martyr to homophobia, a saint who hides his true nature to benefit his family. Rather, he is unfaithful, defensive when his wife finds out he has been lying to her for so many years, and at times it even seems on the verge on abandoning his children to live a carefree life as a single gay bachelor. This fear of being left behind leaves many emotional scars for the rest of his family, particularly in the author's case who apologetically details her own history of infidelity and insecurity in her romantic relationships with men. Overall, it appears the author's goal is to show unflinchingly the truth: her family was and is human, with many human failings. While love was indeed found in some respects, in other respects it was lost due to societal dictations and cultural norms that are gradually being changed and overturned.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carissa Hudgins

    If you want to read a memoir that will have you experiencing all the feels, this is a MUST read. ‘Affliction, Growing Up With a Closeted Gay Dad’ by Laura Hall. I really wasn’t sure what I would be getting myself into when I accepted to read this book, but I am so glad I did. This is the story of author Laura Hall’s life with father Ralph Hall, who lived as a gay man in secrecy while married to her mother, and didn’t come out to her until she was 24 years old. By the time Laura found out the tru If you want to read a memoir that will have you experiencing all the feels, this is a MUST read. ‘Affliction, Growing Up With a Closeted Gay Dad’ by Laura Hall. I really wasn’t sure what I would be getting myself into when I accepted to read this book, but I am so glad I did. This is the story of author Laura Hall’s life with father Ralph Hall, who lived as a gay man in secrecy while married to her mother, and didn’t come out to her until she was 24 years old. By the time Laura found out the truth about her father, her mother Irene had already known for 18 years and they remained married until the day she died. There are so many layers and depth to this story that at some points it had be laughing, sometimes I wanted to cry, and sometimes I was enraged. Ralph Hall joined and served in the Army during World War II after a maddening indiscretion led him into hiding and not identifying with his true self. It was during this time that he met and married Irene and went on to have 4 children. The reader is given a portrait of what family life was like as she was growing up, a glimpse into the marriage between Ralph and Irene, her own life with a daughter and a few failed marriages, as well as what was going on in the background with LGBTQ rights in America at the time (activism, AIDS epidemic, etc). This was truly a history lesson in its own right.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Saurabh Sharma

    This review was first published on 20 September 2021 on Moneycontrol. What is it like to live a double life for six decades? Do we have a name for ‘it’—same-sex attraction—until society gives it one: sin? When can one finally decide if it’s a safe time and place for them to come out, and to whom? Laura Hall in her exquisitely crafted and deeply moving memoir Affliction: Growing Up with a Closeted Gay Dad (She Writes Press, 2021) unearths answers to these questions, treading expertly the personal a This review was first published on 20 September 2021 on Moneycontrol. What is it like to live a double life for six decades? Do we have a name for ‘it’—same-sex attraction—until society gives it one: sin? When can one finally decide if it’s a safe time and place for them to come out, and to whom? Laura Hall in her exquisitely crafted and deeply moving memoir Affliction: Growing Up with a Closeted Gay Dad (She Writes Press, 2021) unearths answers to these questions, treading expertly the personal and political with her measured and taut recollection of her family life in the San Francisco Peninsula. Because her father used to speak to her “as an equal”, Laura could ask anything and got pointed responses from him. However, whenever she asked him why he changed his name from Duane to Ralph, she got a different response each time. She had her ‘doubts’, because none of her friends’ fathers used to style their wives or children or were flamboyant as Ralph was, yet she remembers her father to be the “manliest of men”. This is why, in 1975, after 33 years of being married to his wife Irene, when Ralph came out to her 24-year-old daughter—“Honey, I’m gay. I’ve always been gay”—Laura felt as if “the weight of his secret had shifted from his shoulders to mine.” She was part flummoxed and part annoyed: what should she do of the story, meticulously told with delightful details, of how her parents had met at a dance party? That they decided to marry each other after a short while and made up for years of separation during wartime by having “four babies in five years”? The anger or annoyance subsided only after learning everything about her father in the years to come. Laura learns that father was sacked from Crowley Company, despite being a valued partner, because the “US Civil Service Commission found out from a 1940 arrest that he was gay.” By 1975, this law had cost “more than five thousand federal employees” their jobs for being gay and lesbian. The infamous Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) setup arrests, in which Ralph was convicted, made ‘Duane’ reinvent himself as ‘Ralph’. He was “free of the psychologist and the fees, but not of his record.” (The US courts would make gay people undergo therapy, which they’d have to pay for, as punishment.) Unable to “accept the horrors of being queer” any longer, Duane sanitised his previous life to become Ralph and joined the US Army. Unlike other memoirs, Laura’s is not marred by the myopic family-centric narrative, trying to gain sympathy by selling vulnerability, it’s as much a personal story as it’s a historical record of how queer people, through the generations, have been persecuted or stripped of their dignity for being their authentic selves. And in the event of lack of support from the civil society, how they had mobilised support during the AIDS epidemic, which was much popularised as ‘gay cancer’ or how one senator put it: “God’s wrath on homosexuals”. Laura recalls how her father, too, after coming out, started participating in organising such initiatives. Laura’s prose is also well researched. She has investigated every detail that her father had shared with her. However, candid conversations in this book are equally reflective. One, in particular, is between Laura and her granddaughter Cassie. Laura asks Cassie if she knew her great-grandfather was gay and remained closeted for six decades. Cassie replies: “Yeah, Grandma. He wanted to stay alive.” She put eloquently what Laura could not. Laura finds this change heartening. But, in fact, she was the one who took the first step by educating her daughter Jody about same-sex attraction after her father had come out to her. The initial step is showing effect in the second generation. Laura demonstrates how heterosexuals can be good allies: by propagating that being LGBTQIA+ is a nonissue. But one can never know what it looked like living in the times when it used to be an issue, a big one at that. Sample this excerpt from a 1943 letter which Ralph wrote to Irene: “There’s that restless, dissatisfied, other self of mine that is continually trying to make itself heard. Though I hate myself for allowing it, occasionally I lose the battle—with the result that I fall far short of the standards that my wife and friends and family have set for me.” Ralph’s internal conflict is clearly linked to his homosexuality. Irene couldn’t have fathomed it, of course. However, she eventually came to know about it in 1957, when she broke a lock on the box and discovered some photographs. Ralph wanted to leave the family after this incident, but Irene threw her arms around her husband and said, “Please, Ralph. Please don’t leave. I still love you.” Laura always wondered what made her continue with the marriage. She gets an answer to this question, too: Irene wanted her children to have a father because “she never did”. How devastating it would have been for Irene, no matter how respectful and loving Ralph had been, to surrender her life, knowing she would not get the love that she deserved? However, it must be unbearably suffocating for Ralph, too, who gave his life for the family but knew early on that he was attracted to men, that he was “different”, but “didn’t have a name for it”. He only knew what society wanted him to know: that he “should conceal it, that it was an affliction”. Because of which he stayed in the closet for six decades. In 2008, at the age of 90, on his deathbed, when asked by his daughter if there’s “one thing you most regret about your life,” Ralph said: “I regret not trying harder to find a way to live a life with that sweet young man, Stanley Hughes.” Reading this, I was reminded of Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse, who wrote a book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing (Hay House, 2012). Years of being in palliative care, she learnt that the top regret among the dying was: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” Ralph died with a regret. This, I’m sure, is one of the legacies that Ralph wouldn’t want his future LGBT generations to carry forward.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dan | whatsdanreading

    To put it simply, such a beautiful and powerful story. Beautiful in the way a storm is awe inspiring and catastrophic, reading about these first hand accounts of fear, discrimination, and shame of a closeted gay man in the early/mid 20th century tore my heart out. Ralph Hall is a legend and he will now live on forever through his daughter’s memoir. Thank you, Ralph, for what you endured to created a better future for LGBTQIA+ people today ❤️

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kristel Greer

    I was sent a copy of this book for review. In 1937 Ralph on the brink of suicide came out to his grandmother. She comforted him and for 3 years he lived as an openly gay man. Unfortunately, a deeply distressing event sent him back into the closet. He joined the army and while on leave he met Irene and they later married. When the war ended the couple settled down in San Francisco, had 4 children and lived an average American life. Ralph was a prodigious, well-respected worker and advanced in the r I was sent a copy of this book for review. In 1937 Ralph on the brink of suicide came out to his grandmother. She comforted him and for 3 years he lived as an openly gay man. Unfortunately, a deeply distressing event sent him back into the closet. He joined the army and while on leave he met Irene and they later married. When the war ended the couple settled down in San Francisco, had 4 children and lived an average American life. Ralph was a prodigious, well-respected worker and advanced in the ranks in Standard Oil which offered the family progression in social standing and increasingly impressive homes. Ralph presented as a straight man, although one that loved flower arranging, had a keen eye for fashion trends and loved to decorate the family home. Irene had the benefit of these abilities but eventually was devastated when she uncovered Ralph's secret. Though they stayed together, Ralph's exploration of his sexuality never truly stopped throughout the marriage. A story of how society's shaming and violence towards LGBT people led to many living straight lives and the impacts that had on their mental health and wellbeing as well as those closest to them. Full 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟. An honest and loving portrayal of a man's double life as a devoted dad and lifelong husband to Irene while being a closeted gay man. It incorporates his daughter Laura learning these facts and how she dealt with the news which prompted her review of her life choices and views. At times heart wrenching due to Ralph's need to hide a large aspect of himself away and never truly living an authentic life. But at the same time showing the joy he got from his interior decorating, doting on his children and living his life with flair. Alongside the empathy and emotional reaction Ralph's story created, I also felt deeply for his wife Irene as she lived with his secret while knowing he was unfaithful. Not an ideal situation for anyone but one that showed their relationship stood the test of time until Irene's death. A thought-provoking and emotive story that will certainly leave you a little raw.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Annie (Annie's Readingtips)

    Thank you so much to the publicist Sabrina Dax and the author Laura Hall for sending me an ARC, it was a true honor reading this tender, touching and powerful memoir about life growing up with a closeted gay dad! At the age of 24, with a teen pregnancy and two failed marriages behind her, and trying to dig a little deeper into her background and reasons for her lack of trust in men, Laura finds out that her father Ralph is gay and has been closeted for all his life. “I knew I was different,” h Thank you so much to the publicist Sabrina Dax and the author Laura Hall for sending me an ARC, it was a true honor reading this tender, touching and powerful memoir about life growing up with a closeted gay dad! At the age of 24, with a teen pregnancy and two failed marriages behind her, and trying to dig a little deeper into her background and reasons for her lack of trust in men, Laura finds out that her father Ralph is gay and has been closeted for all his life. “I knew I was different,” he said. “I was also aware of the fact I should conceal it, that it was an affliction.” This memoir is both a way of Laura trying to understand her father and the decisions he’s made - or been forced to make - as well as for Laura to understand her own relationship problems and what she might have subconsciously known all along. It’s also such an important background story to the LGBTQ+ rights struggle and a history lesson in its own right as Laura Hall seamlessly weaves in details about the mistreatment and police actions against gay men (setups really) that her father suffered from and the constraints he had to live within, as well as the birth of the gay right movement, the AIDS crisis and ACT UP activism, and at the ending her granddaughter’s open-minded approach that shows Laura right before her eyes how the world has changed. The writing was very straightforward, compelling and easy to read, and I was immediately pulled into this story, reading it all in one sitting. It was such an honest and frank reflection about Laura’s upbringing, her father’s struggle and suffering but also his perhaps not always honorable actions as well as the impossible situation for Laura’s mother to chose to stay married and bring up a family with a man she knew didn’t love her the way she loved him. I was really impressed by the way Laura Hall didn’t shy away from the parts that were not very flattering to herself or her family, but how she nevertheless throughout the book always managed to keep the story telling so tender, loving and respectful. All in all, this is a must read that I recommend with all my heart! Such a beautiful, warm, brave, moving and important family tale connecting the coming of age of both Laura and her father, with a wonderful mix of sadness and joy, resilience and love.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ekta M

    Finally finished this book.This was my first ever read on homosexuality. I was so happy to have the ARC. The book launches tomorrow😊 _______ Laura Hall - Is there one thing you most regret about your life, Dad? Her Dad - Yes Laurie. I regret not trying harder to find a way to live a life with that sweet young man, Stanley Hughes. _____ 📍AFFLICTION by Laura Hall is a raw and moving account about growing up with a closeted gay dad and a straight mom in the 1950s. Laura Hall was born in 1951 in San Carlo Finally finished this book.This was my first ever read on homosexuality. I was so happy to have the ARC. The book launches tomorrow😊 _______ Laura Hall - Is there one thing you most regret about your life, Dad? Her Dad - Yes Laurie. I regret not trying harder to find a way to live a life with that sweet young man, Stanley Hughes. _____ 📍AFFLICTION by Laura Hall is a raw and moving account about growing up with a closeted gay dad and a straight mom in the 1950s. Laura Hall was born in 1951 in San Carlos, California a small city in San Fransisco. Laura came to know about her dad's orientation at the age of 24. 📍In this book Laura Hall talks not only about her gay dad but her family as a whole. •What it was like between her mom and dad. •How he happened to marry her mom inspite of being gay. •How her dad lived double life as a gay man and also a devoted father and husband •What was her dad like all throughout those 90years. •Her dad's love Stanley •Her relationship with her gay dad and her straight mom •The pain and sufferings her dad faced when homosexuality was considered illegal and taboo. •What impact did it have on her of being a daughter of a gay dad •How her mother held the relationship together inspite of knowing that her husband is gay ____ The narration is very impactful such that the words will hit right at your heart. It was so honest and raw and heartfelt and emotional and I cant just sum-up in words. The last few chapters were the most tough to read because I didn't knew how not to cry. The book was more about familial love rather than just growing up with gay dad. I love how the author has divulged the details of her family in its truest form. The author sure has a way of telling a complicated story in a simplest manner. ____

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tales and Travels

    I was gifted an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Affliction is a brilliant memoir about the many ways growing up with a closeted gay dad has shaped Laura Hall’s life. It explores romantic relationships, family dynamics, and mental health with a backdrop of many decades of queer history, and I had a really wonderful experience reading it! This memoir is beautifully written and recounts the entire history of Hall’s family in a mostly chronological fashion. It does jump around i I was gifted an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Affliction is a brilliant memoir about the many ways growing up with a closeted gay dad has shaped Laura Hall’s life. It explores romantic relationships, family dynamics, and mental health with a backdrop of many decades of queer history, and I had a really wonderful experience reading it! This memoir is beautifully written and recounts the entire history of Hall’s family in a mostly chronological fashion. It does jump around in time a little which, at times, is slightly confusing, but for the most part makes for a very dynamic story. The narrative style makes it a captivating story of success and hardships, while simultaneously teaching the reader about the LGBTQ+ history in the US. I loved Hall’s honest portrayal of her family’s history, and how she avoids blaming their various struggles on her father being a closeted gay man in a “straight” marriage, but instead allows the reader to draw parallels and conclusions for themselves. Similarly, this is not a memoir with a morale, or one that tries to push a certain message. Instead, Hall allows the reader to take from her story what they want, which I greatly appreciated! I always love learning about queer history, and due to the unique perspective Hall brings, this brought up many facets of it that I hadn’t thought of before. If you want to learn more about the history of queer men, and you’re ready for an emotional gut punch, be sure to pick up a copy of Affliction!

  27. 4 out of 5

    elsa

    Affliction is the story of a closeted gay husband and father and the effects of his secret on his family. Laura Hall was trying to make sense of her marriage infidelities when her father came out to her. She believed her relationship fails were due to a genetic predisposition her father possessed. His revelation forced her to reevaluate her childhood and her relationship with her father. Finally, her father's unique characteristics,  hobbies,  and likes made sense. It was almost impossible for a Affliction is the story of a closeted gay husband and father and the effects of his secret on his family. Laura Hall was trying to make sense of her marriage infidelities when her father came out to her. She believed her relationship fails were due to a genetic predisposition her father possessed. His revelation forced her to reevaluate her childhood and her relationship with her father. Finally, her father's unique characteristics,  hobbies,  and likes made sense. It was almost impossible for a gay man to come out in the 1930s when Ralph Hall was growing up. He was forced to live a life that was not meant for him. Laura recounts his stories of his double life and struggles with the choices he was forced to make. It was very sad to read about the injustices gay men suffered at that time. I can only imagine the relief he felt to be able to come out to his children. But this is not just the story of Laura Halls father.  I was born in the 70s when Laura was a teenager. It was a treat to read about life in the 50s and 60s and how the summer of love shaped her life becoming a teenage mother. It was such a different life back then. Something I can only imagine. Through this novel, we get to meet the whole family and their story with their father. Thank you to Bookishfirst and the publisher for providing me with this ARC in return for my honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Graham Sillars

    Firstly I wish to thank the author, Laura Hall and the publicist, Sabrina Dax for sending me an ARC of this incredible book with a request for an open and honest review. What can I say about the heartbreakingly gorgeous memoir? It was full of all the feels and it was beautifully written. Laura’s father was born in 1918 and realised he was gay at a very young age. He had to hide this side of himself because attitudes at the time weren’t favourable or accepting of the queer community. He married, ha Firstly I wish to thank the author, Laura Hall and the publicist, Sabrina Dax for sending me an ARC of this incredible book with a request for an open and honest review. What can I say about the heartbreakingly gorgeous memoir? It was full of all the feels and it was beautifully written. Laura’s father was born in 1918 and realised he was gay at a very young age. He had to hide this side of himself because attitudes at the time weren’t favourable or accepting of the queer community. He married, had children and lived his life with his families and keeping his secret from them. His wife was aware but clearly they also adored one another. Laura’s father, Ralph, finally came out to her in the mid 1970s. She had always felt that their family was different to those all around them. Reading this book I was struck by the sadness of not fully being able to live as who you are but also the want and the need to live your life for your family and to be a husband and a father. This book was heartbreaking, sad, beautiful and in many ways completely uplifting. I absolutely highly recommend it, not just to members of the LGBTQIA+ community but to anyone who appreciates real and very human stories of family, love and life. Once again thank you to Laura Hall for this gorgeous signed ARC. I will treasure it and I’m certain I shall return to it in the future.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary G.

    In 1975, 24-year-old Laura Hall was shocked when her father revealed to her that he was gay, and that her mother knew, but no one else in the family did. In sharing this information with her, he moved her into the closet with him, keeping this secret together. Hall writes beautifully of her father's struggles, his marriage to her mother, and the bits and pieces of his life pre-marriage as they are revealed. I loved reading about the complexity of this family and her simultaneous closeness/distanc In 1975, 24-year-old Laura Hall was shocked when her father revealed to her that he was gay, and that her mother knew, but no one else in the family did. In sharing this information with her, he moved her into the closet with him, keeping this secret together. Hall writes beautifully of her father's struggles, his marriage to her mother, and the bits and pieces of his life pre-marriage as they are revealed. I loved reading about the complexity of this family and her simultaneous closeness/distance from her father - if you're close to someone, how can you keep such a big secret? This book is an important addition to the story of anti-gay discrimination; Hall tells the heartbreaking story of her dad being arrested in a bathroom sting, a conviction that leads to his firing from a government job. Contrast this with Hall's granddaughter's reaction to Papa being gay. Hall's childhood is also a window into the 60s/70s boom of San Francisco. If you enjoy memoirs, I'd recommend this book. Thank you to BookishFirst and SheWrites Press for providing a copy of this book from a raffle.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Affliction is one of the more unique memoirs I've read, one that reads like a love letter to Laura Hall's dysfunctional but loving family. Told mostly chronologically after a jumping off point in her 20s when she found out her father was gay, the memoir explores the familial relationships that include her closeted gay father and straight mother. In the beginning of the memoir, Hall effectively uses literary devices to show the I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Affliction is one of the more unique memoirs I've read, one that reads like a love letter to Laura Hall's dysfunctional but loving family. Told mostly chronologically after a jumping off point in her 20s when she found out her father was gay, the memoir explores the familial relationships that include her closeted gay father and straight mother. In the beginning of the memoir, Hall effectively uses literary devices to show the effect on her father's closeted behaviors. Before she is old enough to put her feelings into words, she develops a deep-seated fear of being abandoned by her father, ands she seeks comfort in moments when her parents display any romantic proclivities. As she grows up, she struggles with her own romantic relationships, grapples with the effects of not having boundaries with her parents, and learns to separate herself from her parents' dysfunctional marriage and trust her own heart in love. While it is mostly chronological, the memoir's chapters are also somewhat topical, and as such, Hall sometimes repeats anecdotes multiple times. Regardless, this is a fascinating and compelling memoir of a family finding its way from the conservative 1950s, through the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, and into decades that recognize, tolerate, and begin to accept the LGBTQ community.

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