"Brave, unflinching, and utterly transfixing, Shelby Smoak’s Bleeder captivated me from its first lines. Like Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face, this memoir asks how one goes about living some semblance of a normal life—college, romance, job—while living with the most severe of illnesses, in Smoak’s case severe hemophilia and HIV, along with all the ensuing complications. That he does so with not just brutal honesty, but also with humor and grace, is testament to his strength and promise as a writer. I couldn’t put this book down."
—Joanna Smith Rakoff, author of A Fortunate Age
"Raw and delicate, poignant and poetic, Shelby Smoak’s Bleeder exposes the sorrow and sometimes sweetness of coming of age with HIV. In a world of misunderstanding and stigmas, the young Smoak searches for love and acceptance, and his readers can’t help but find themselves becoming emotionally attached to him. His is an observant and encompassing story, noticing the brilliance of existence that others might take for granted. The sunsets written here are more lovely than in life."
—Jenny Boully, author of The Body
"Shelby Smoak’s Bleeder is a strongly written, mournful tale of a young man learning that the medicine he has taken to treat hemophilia has the disastrous side effect of giving him HIV. I have rarely read anything as moving or as deeply human as this memoir, and I admire the clarity with which Smoak has shaped this painful narrative. As a hemophiliac myself, I have lived through much of what Smoak writes about, and can vouch for the depth of truth these pages contain. This is a superb book."
—Jim Grimsley, author of Winter Birds and Dream Boy
"That Smoak has chosen to relive all he has suffered in this vivid and honest memoir is amazing enough. That he is able to recount his most painful moments without self-pity, with humility, grace, and even humor, is what makes Bleeder such a necessary and memorable book."
—Michael Parker, author of The Watery Part of the World