Synopses & Reviews
A tough and vigorous, amusing rather than melancholic blend of literary journalism and memoir.
Penitent, with Roses is a series of essays by a white, middle-class Jewish mother who is diagnosed with AIDS when her son is 11 months old. The first part of the work encompasses several years of her life, including the birth of her son and her diagnosis, her attempt to notify a former lover of her condition, and her experiences as an activist and a hotline volunteer. It is followed by a series of autobiographical sketches of her childhood and young womanhood, framed as a letter to her small son. Throughout, readers accompany Paula W. Peterson as she re-forges her personal identity in the face of physical and spiritual crises.