Jacob has a fulfilling job in Toronto as a counsellor at a men’s outreach centre; men living with HIV. When he is asked to come home to Advocate, the small town in Nova Scotia where he grew up, to say good-bye to his dying grandmother, he has severe misgivings. He remembers the events of 1984 well; when he was 11 years old and his Uncle David came home after being away for more than a decade.
Uncle David has full blown AIDS and has come home to die. His grandmother is not happy to see him and she’s definitely not happy to have him at her house as he slowly fades away. Young Jacob becomes witness to the fear and panic brought on by the first cases of AIDS in the country. He witnesses the arguments his mother and aunt have with his grandmother, and with the rest of the town as they are gradually alienated by almost everyone.
The full review of Advocate can be read at The Miramichi Reader.
Darren Greer’s Just Beneath My Skin won the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award in 2015. This year, Advocate was a finalist for the same award. Advocate is also the winner of the 2017 Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction. I definitely plan to seek out his other books at some point in the future.
Review at Buried in Print – “In the roundtable at IFOA, Darren Greer commented that there is no formula for redemption; it’s entirely personal. But, for him, writing is an act of redemption, and writing Advocate, in particular, was one such act.”
Review at the Quill & Quire – “At the core of Advocate are questions about legacy and forgiveness. What is to be done with a town – like many others – unable to acknowledge its grave failure? And what can survivors of the crisis, and those left working in its shadow, do with that history? Greer offers no easy answers, but provides a kind of optimism that highlights the resourcefulness inherent in society’s most marginalized.”
Review at The Globe & Mail – “As the novel’s title suggests, Advocate is a central character in the story, which is not only about the epidemic in time but in place. David’s journey back to Advocate is emblematic: Many young gay men who escaped their home towns to find freedom in the big city returned to those same, often hostile, towns in their dying months because they had nowhere else to go. How will Advocate bear witness to its part in this history?“