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A moving memoir of life in the late 20th century

“Now Everyone Will Know: The Perfect Husband, His Shattering Secret, My Recovered Life (A Memoir)” by Maggie Kneip. (Garden Street Books, 2015).

 

As a young woman, Maggie Kneip aimed for a stage career. She studied dance in college and moved from her Jewish family in Philadelphia for a career in New York where she discovered that she was spending more time waiting tables and pouring drinks than actually performing. Then she met John Andrew. He was an editor on the Wall Street Journal, charming, handsome and everything she was looking for in a mate. They married, despite the disapproval of his father for choosing someone who was Jewish. They had a daughter Carolyn and then a few years later, a son, Daniel. However, within a few weeks after Daniel’s birth in 1990, John collapsed, both physically and mentally. It wasn’t a temporary illness. Maggie eventually guessed what was happening. John had AIDS. The doctors’ tests proved her right. John died within a year

“Now Everyone Will Know” is the story of Maggie’s life, raising two children as a single mother and dealing with the public fear of anyone with the disease. As it turned out, neither Maggie nor either of her two children was infected. However after a few ugly experiences with neighbors and so-called friends, Maggie took her parents’ advice and kept John’s illness a secret for close to 20 years. Keeping secrets is a very difficult activity. Every day is a challenge and everyone you meet can potentially ruin you if the secret is revealed.

Maggie Kneip’s memoir is a pager-turner. She writes with the assurance of a woman who spent more than 20 years in marketing for publishers. She writes from her heart when she narrates the story of her love for John and her shock at discovering his hidden life. She writes with the strength of a single mother who raised two wonderful children. AIDS decimated a generation of young men, particularly those who lived in big cities with gay populations. Many readers of Kneip’s memoir will have lost a friend or relative to this devastating disease. Reading her book may ease the pain of these losses and make it easier for readers to deal with them.  Its discussable themes make it highly recommended for book discussion groups.

Andrea Kempf is a retired librarian who speaks throughout the community on various topics related to books and reading.