Shining Light on HIV in America Through a Modern Love Story

Guest post by our Facebook fan and Author, J. J. Brown

Vector a Modern Love Story, my first published novel, came out in November.  In Vector, the central characters are at an HIV/AIDS clinic in New York City. They are forced to live and to love knowing they will die. I began the book with a quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

I wrote Vector to shine a light on HIV and AIDS in people everyone may know and love. The main character Eva is an impulsive young opera student studying La Bohème, the classic opera of tragic love in the face of a deadly disease. Her love interest Michael is an older, wealthy philanthropist. Michael, essentially loves himself. He is also loves beautiful ideas like running his Foundation to help people with AIDS in New York and South Africa, and beautiful people like Eva. Michael is sick, and he has trouble in keeping up with his life as his disease progresses. Yet he still tries so hard to respond to global needs by building his philanthropic group. What is love? Is it passion, or compassion? Do we still love someone when they get sick? I wanted to answer some of these questions in Vector.

Today, the things we hear about the HIV/AIDS are sometimes quite fantastical and not based on reality. I grew up before AIDS, and I was a young scientist working on my genetics PhD when we found out about it in the 1980’s. Ever since, I hear about the few, then the thousands, then the millions of people who have died from the disease every year around the world. Yet, it is preventable. I was living in the Bronx in New York City when I wrote the first draft of Vector a Modern Love Story. I had teenage daughters. As a parent, I was thinking about love, and what it means to a young woman to love in a time when older people around her have been exposed to the HIV virus for many years. And so it is a love story, a tragedy, and a cautionary tale set in modern times.

*Note* The above guest post is from a Facebook friend of Better World Books J. J. Brown. You may connect with J.J at her website, or at twitter, @jjunebrown or her Facebook page,  J.J.Brown Author. This content does not necessarily reflect the views of Better World Books (as our lawyers make sure we say). We love having guest bloggers and invite you to email if you are interested in covering a book or topic on the BWB Blog. Thank you, J. J., we are glad your book is available at Better World Books where each purchase also powers a donation!

Do you know someone struggling with HIV/AIDS? How have you been able to empathize with him or her? What book have helped you cope together? Thanks for openly sharing below.


  1. First of all, I bought my copy of Vector at Better World Books, and I’m glad I did.

    Thanks for giving us a little background on the evolution of your novel. I imagine being the mother of teen daughters and a scientist knowledgeable on the subject of AIDS contributed to your novel. You really capture the impulsiveness of Eva and the innocence of an era, the eighties, when this frightening disease was first being discovered.

  2. Robin, it is so great to find a type of bookstore that also gives back to the global community – Better World Books. I’m grateful that they’re carrying my books here where they are available around the world. Thanks for your comments about the story and HIV. It is a terrifying virus and so adaptable that the host, the body, can’t keep up with it. Because of this, understanding the way we deal with it becomes even more important.

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