Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review - Nightlight by Janine Avril


A spare and beautiful memoir of family secrets and its consequences.

While in her twenties, Janine Avril learned a shocking family secret, one that set her on a deeply personal journey into her past. Her earliest memory was of her mother complaining about a bizarre pain in her ankle, one she linked to a ski accident she’d been in as a young girl. When Janine was twelve, growing up in the wealthy and predominantly Jewish suburb of Roslyn, New York, her mother was diagnosed with a deadly cancer and died three years later. While a junior at Cornell University, Janine learned that her father, a popular French chef and entrepreneur, was sick with full-blown AIDS. It was nearly five years later when Janine received an unexpected phone call from her uncle, forcing her to re-evaluate her childhood. Inspired to understand as much as she could about her parents, she finally discovers a powerful link between her father and herself, and her past becomes illuminated like the nightlight that once protected her from the darkness of her youth.

My Thoughts:

Janine's story is so heartbreaking, it's almost unbelievable. I can't imagine losing both of my parents the way that she did. Understandably she was quite bitter towards the end, but I feel that she used that to her advantage to become the person that she always wanted to be. From her father she was constantly seeking his approval and acceptance, which he did not often give. Her parents did not share what was really going on with their illnesses to protect their children, which ultimately left them hurt and confused. I greatly admire Janine and her will to put her anguish into words for everyone to read. I also loved her reference to "night lights" ..... the safety and comfort of their illumination during the dark hours.

About the Author:

Janine Avril teaches high school English and has taught college writing at Brooklyn College and New York City College of Technology. Janine is the founder and host of Girlsalon, a forum for lesbian/queer writers to showcase their talents. She has been published in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Velvetpark Magazine, and Topic Magazine for her piece “Eavesdropping” and featured in Time Out New York, Gay City News and Janine’s Web sites are and

Photobucket Very Good!
  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Alyson Books (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593500122
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593500122
*This book was received from


Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I just finished a tough memoir as well. This one sounds amazing, and one that I'll need a box of tissues with. Great write up.

Melissa said...

This book sounds extremely deep and heartfelt...great review...I'm adding this to my TBR pile :)

itsJUSTme said...

Love the look of the blog! "Save the Hooters" - Ha! Love it!
I will put something on my blog too!

Natalie W said...

Sounds very powerful. I'm adding it to my list.
Nice review.
Natalie :0)
Love love your blogs new look!


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