Author: Barbara Dinerman
ISBN:  978-0-595-40930-3
Publisher:  iUniverse

Click Here To Purchase H

The “H” stands for Herpes.  Joan Halprin, a single woman in her mid-thirties has been infected with the herpes virus and feels untouchable.  She has lived a good life and then moved to Fort Lauderdale to work for an advertising agency.  Joan has decided to get serious about her career since her personal life is in the toilet.  She is out to prove herself professionally.

Statistics show that one in four women and one in five men have the “H” problem.  Although Joan knows this, it doesn’t help her feel better about her situation.  She feels isolated, even though her parents and married brother live close.

Joan’s boss in the advertising agency doesn’t help her regain any of her lost self-esteem either. Her boss, Sid is a high-maintenance, ill-mannered man with a Napoleon complex, but that doesn’t stop Joan from wanting to infect him.

The author has written hundreds of articles on interior design, art, and travel for magazines. In 1997, she won the annual Journalism Award from the American Society of Interior Designers.  She lives in south Florida, which bears many resemblances to her native Boston.

There were a few things in the story that took me by surprise.  Although this book is marketed as a humorous look at the disease, I didn’t find myself humored by much of the book.  There are parts of the book that did bring a smile to my face, but they were the day-to-day scenarios that Joan encountered at work.  I was amused by her co-workers consistent corporate America personalities, which we all know so well.

I was largely surprised that a story about a person with herpes would only use Neosporin on the infected area. If that wasn’t so sad, it would almost be laughable.  I would have thought that there would have been a flurry of research done by either the character or by the author on the many over the counter and prescription drugs available for herpes, which probably work better than what Joan was using.  What seemed to be common knowledge on the subject was never mentioned. What could have been an educational and humor-substance story turned into a story of ridiculous things that reminded me of a television series that played out so unrealistically the audience lost interest.

I found the reaction of the newly infected current lover to be too unlikely and not the least bit funny.  Nate’s reaction was flippant and too naive to find even a little funny.Joan had so little respect for herself and her partner that she had unprotected sex several times before she told him. Although this was just a story, it is sad to think that people like Joan exist and this type of behavior is the rule and not the exception.  After Joan tells Nate that she has the herpes virus and has just infected him, Nate asks Joan to move in with him.  I found this unsettling and not the least bit amusing. 

Overall, I found this quick-read of a book to be short on humor and too far of a stretch for my imagination in relationships, even dysfunctional ones.   The characters of Joan and Nate are too unrealistic in their relationship considering that each are now infected with a virus that was unwanted in the first place.   Instead of finding humor in the book, I found sadness in the characters and little substance in the relationship of Joan and Nate.  The story wasn’t what I was looking for in a book with this title.

The only thing Joan proved in this story is that she is a shallow person that consistently makes decisions to self-sabotage her own happiness.

Click Here To Purchase H