Cover Image: Life at the Death House

Life at the Death House

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A beautiful story that is so much like real life, it will make you sad.

I sometimes think about children that have no one in their corner and how we as a society don't spend enough time taking care of each other, much less the children that need people's love and attention the most.

This book will honestly make you want to foster children. Definitely read this book!

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book! Quick read and a truly touching story! I rate it a 4.2 and will definitely recommend it to others!

Was this review helpful?

It's called the "New Life House," but the locals have their own name for it - they call it the Death House.


The answer is somewhat complex, but  also quite simple. In the late 90s (which is the era when this story takes place) HIV and AIDS were still relatively new diseases and the general populace were spectacularly uninformed.

Rumors were rampant and many people thought that you could catch HIV just by touching an infected person. It was known as the "gay disease" since many of the infected came from the lgbt community.

In 1997, at the age of seventeen, Tyler arrived at the New Life House.  "Strange name for a death house, he'd thought. The name just didn't make sense to him. There was no new life for people like him. There was only death and loneliness. And pain. That's all there was."

Imagine being only sixteen and  finding out you have a disease with no cure and a near 100% fatality rate. Now, add to this - your family kicking you out of the house and calling you terrible, hurtful names. As if those two things are not bad enough, now add another issue - the fact that you know nothing about this disease other than the fact it is going to take your life. You believe that anyone you touch (even just to give a simple hug) will also become infected, so you swear off physical contact completely. That is one heck of a burden to place on anyone, nevermind on a young teenager.

The longer Tyler and his housemates live at the New Life House, the more they learn - not only about their disease, but about each other, about themselves and about the selfless couple who made the house a reality.

I loved learning about each of the house's residents and their backstories, including what led to them living away from their families and coming to reside in the New Life House.

I love that there are so many themes examined in the pages of this book. I love the fact that author Sean Kerr does not shy away from topics that might make certain readers uncomfortable. He tackles the issue of homophobia with the depth of feeling that I believe only an LGBTQ author could achieve. I am proud to say that the author is Canadian and I cannot wait to read whatever he writes next.

The only rating that I could possibly give this book is a perfect 5 OUT OF 5 STARS. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

With heart-wretching prose, authentic characters and a story ripped straight out of the headlines of the 1990s, this book should be at the top of everyone's MUST READ list.

*** I would like to say a special thank you to both NETGALLEY and the Publisher for providing me with an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of this book. ***

Was this review helpful?

I received the book as an ARC. I haven’t read anything like it before. Hearing the back stories of the HIV positive cast of characters was heartbreaking. It was inspiring to learn how they were able to overcome prejudice and living with a life threatening disease. While this story was heartbreaking at times, there were several lessons that most of us can learn from. Overall, it was a worthwhile read.

See my review on

Was this review helpful?

I enjoyed LIFE AT THE DEATH HOUSE and it seemed to be an honest portrayal of what it must be like to be a teenager with HIV. The characters were engaging, but the problem that I had was the story seemed dated. The portrayal of the reactions of ordinary people and even the main character's understanding of how HIV is transmitted was more like the reactions of people to HIV 20 years ago.

Was this review helpful?

I so wanted to love this book. The premise is intriguing, the story itself strong. It raises a number of topics that need to be discussed. Even now that we know more about the disease. Or maybe we need to bring them back into the discussion because not talking about is dangerous. So yes, I loved how the book addressed these issues.
Why am I not happy?
I had the hardest time with the writing style. The dialogues came across as stilted and artificial. Also, the difference in speech between the individual characters (sometimes with a 20-year age difference) was partly absent. They all spoke the same. That and the redundant descriptions and considerations greatly reduced the pleasure I had in reading this book. That's a real shame because I can absolutely see the potential in this book. I do hope that these are subjective dislikes and that others will enjoy this book much more than I did.

Was this review helpful?

This is one of those books that stays with you long after you are done reading. The author did a brilliant job of highlighting what life is like living with AIDS for a teenager. Have tissues handy when reading this one, you will need them!

Was this review helpful?

This book grabbed me from the get go but once the flashbacks started they really pulled me out of the story and I found it hard to bounce right back to where we were, especially since it was from multiple characters. If this had started and continued as it was, I would have given it a solid five stars. The story itself was fantastic and gripping.

A solid 3.5 rounded up.

Was this review helpful?

Your going to need to have tissues for last few chapters of this book. I didn't have them handy and my pillow was wet. I was balling like a baby last night. WOW.
Tyler is a 17 year old who has been told he has Aids. He found out about this home that takes care of kids with HIV positive . thinking they will toss him out anyhow he takes his chance and goes there. He finds a wonderful Lady and Man who take him in names Carol and Marcus. There is other kids as well youngest came same night as Tyler and is 4, his room-mate little Theo . Theo does not talk at start to no one but Tyler but that changes later in book. The main thing they all in the house end up get close to Tyler and then Tyler gets very sick and dies. He has taught everyone of them something.
I would recommend this but grab a box of tissues as you will need them before this books over. Great read..

Was this review helpful?

2.5 stars

By about half way through,probably before,I knew this book wasn't for me.
I didn't think the kids style of talking seemed very realistic,and I never quite understood why the kids were kept in isolation... but then sent out into the big wide world to college.
I finished the book,It had the sort of ending you expect it to.
Just not for me I'm afraid.

Was this review helpful?

I was given this ARC via NetGalley and NineStar Press, LLC in exchange for an honest review.

I feel like once in a while you read a book that somehow alters your perception on life and your role in it. This is definitely one of those books. I couldn't put it down. It made me laugh and cry and want to hug my kids and donate to charities. For real. This book is definitely one that should be read by everyone. So many life lessons, pearls of wisdom and just endless love.

Tyler is an HIV positive teenager who's been living on the streets of Vancouver and sees an ad for a house for positive kids. Marco and Carol take him in and show him that his life isn't over and that you can create your own family. They teach how to never give up, to always treat others with respect and love and that there's always tomorrow.

Was this review helpful?