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Publisher's Summary

"A powerful story of people struggling to keep their humanity in dire circumstances." (People Magazine)

"Tearjerker... The Great Believers asks big questions about redemption, tragedy, and connection." (Entertainment Weekly)

A dazzling new novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying, and after his friend Nico's funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico's little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the '80s and the chaos of the modern world as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

©2018 Rebecca Makkai (P)2018 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Best book for a long time!

Loved!!! The story is poignant and beautifully depicts a subject many may not know or not know from a personal perspective and the way the aids epidemic shaped a generation ... the characters are developed sensitively and unflinchingly: love,guilt, shame,hope . Kudos to the author in weaving the story to capture the humanness in all its flaws/demonstrating eloquently frailty and the longing to make sense of senselessness... narration makes this a top pick for sure !

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • 07-14-18

Healing, beautiful, hopeful

Rebecca Makkai is a brilliant writer. Her characters and their circumstances are incredibly fleshed out and nuanced. She paints in a broad spectrum of colors and shades, never in black and white, making Yale and Fiona's stories achingly real. The subject matter is heavy, but do not be deterred: this book is full of life.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Art and AIDS

This was relentlessly bleak. The book had a gossipy tone of being told rather than an active one of action unfurling before you. This style made me feel distanced from the characters and their travails. It started out okay but was too long and suffered in the middle from a lack of good editing.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful