Waking in Havana is a captivating and unique first hand account of a health care provider’s experiences with HIV/AIDS across geographic and temporal distances. In the re-telling of her experiences, Schwolsky has woven together a vivid tapestry using threads made of moments and memories from a life full of of encounters caring for those affected and infected with HIV/AIDS, both as a nurse and as a citizen of the world. While exploring the implications of health policy and social perspectives that shaped the response to the epidemic in two different countries, she courageously writes critically of herself and the systems she engaged with in her endeavors to provide care to those in need and address the social injustices that shaped the delivery of their care. By bearing witness to the lives touched by this illness, through interviews, photographs, and remembered conversations, Schwolsky represents the complexity of personal accounts and shared experiences that patients, providers, family members, and caregivers all navigated during a time of great uncertainty, with a deep respect for their stories as well as their intersection with her own.
Waking in Havana takes readers on a journey that mirrors the author’s, across oceans and time, expanding our awareness of the historical significance of HIV/AIDS beyond U.S borders while demonstrating the legacy of its policies and their impact on the response to calls for action then and now.
Mario de la Cruz, MS, Associate Director,
Division of Narrative Medicine, Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics,