I started off rating this at a three but downgraded it to a two. I'm sorry, but this is not the book for me.
Dan and Mark move to Tampa Florida from Chicago to get away from Mark's dealers and other connection to his addiction. Unfortuntely this does not work out and soon Mark is spiralling out of control again with Dan in deep denial. Meanwhile Dan starts volunteering with an HIV/AIDS support organization as a 'buddy' for Adam, a man dying of of AIDS. Through Adam Dan meets Sullivan, Adam's boyfriend. Dan and Sullivan become close when Adam is arrested for strangling Sullivan (as well as violating his parole for stealing a car), and even closer after Adam passes away from AIDS.
Part of the problem is believability. The thing with Dan and Mark occurs early in the story and I never get any real investment in their story. It would have been better if the break up had taken place before the story opened and Dan was on the rebound when he met Adam and Sullivan. Otherwise it just felt unnecessary. I have a very
hard time buying Dan and Adam's closeness. Dan visits Adam all of two times
before Adam gets hauled off to prison, after two visits he would not have known that much about him (and he didn't), yet he felt that he understood Adam and felt very close to him. I really don't get that. I understand someone, especially a volunteer like Dan, being supportive to someone going through a difficult time, but I do not get why Dan was so emotionally invested in Adam. Why he felt so close to him. It would have been better if their relationship had developed more before the arrest, then Adam's decent into violence would have been more shocking and their deep friendship would have been more understandable.
Notice what I haven't been talking much about? That's right, the main relationship in this novel. At one point I was 130 pages into a 210 page book and Dan and Sullivan have had one
kiss, and they haven't had much page time together. In fact, Dan was kind of a dick for being worried about Adam
when Adam had been the one to attack Sullivan in the first place.
It was interesting to see a novel based in the early nineties dealing with the AIDS crisis and I really enjoyed that aspect of it, but in general I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters. I seriously feel this book could have been improved by hacking off the parts that deal with Mark, then developing Adam and Dan's relationship more. I was expecting something more like a respite caregiver, someone who would come in and actually take care
of Adam, making sure he took his medications, giving him an impartial ear to unload on and say all the things that would have hurt Sullivan to hear, etc. But this book didn't give me that at all. I'm not even sure why it is titled "Caregiver" since there seems to be very little caregiving involved.
2/5 This novel was interesting enough that I may check out a few of this author's other stories, but I can't say that this one was really all that good.