Affliction is a look into the life of a closeted gay man who lived a lie for most of his life, due to the unaccepting views of the world around him. His daughter, Laura, wrote this memoir after his death. She wound the clock backward to look at her childhood differently with the new knowledge she acquired.
This quote from her father says much. “I knew I was different. I was also aware of the fact I should conceal it, that it was an affliction.” This was just how it was in the late 30s, early 40s. Ralph Hall chose to marry and had four children. Affliction takes the reader through this family’s life.
No matter how you feel on the subject, hiding behind a family for survival affected many people. In this case, the wife learned her husband was gay after they had been married for many years and had four children. Once the initial shock wore off, they chose to stay together. They stayed together until his wife passed away in her eighties.
This memoir stretches through many years; from the 30s when being gay could get you arrested to 2008 when Ralph lived as a gay man without fear. Laura’s thoughts as a child are expressed as well as her feelings as an adult. Once Laura learned her father was gay, she was stuck in the middle. She was the only child who knew the truth, yet her mother didn’t know she knew. Life was hard trying to listen to her father’s life stories while making sure she didn’t mention anything in front of the rest of the family.
Memoirs must be difficult to write. It sort of mystifies me how anyone can remember such detail about their childhood. I have a terrible memory, especially when it comes to my elementary days. Laura remembers with so much detail. I am curious if she had to look at pictures and talk to family members for some of the information. I am sure that writing this book brought some healing to her life.
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