Safely Through the Fire, by Claire Anderson, is a fictionalized account of what happens when a family goes through unexpected hardship. In this case, the culprit is AIDS. Based in no small part on Anderson's own experience, this book tells the story of Anna and her brother.
Anna finds out over Labor Day that Billy has been diagnosed with AIDS and is presently dying. Too sick to come tell her himself, Anna hears the news from a cousin. Ironically, he almost did tell her himself while they were at a cemetery when they had a prior visit. One casual remark- "Don't you wonder," she said absently, "don't you wonder who will be the first one buried in here?" opened up an opportunity for honesty. However, Billy decided not to "disturb her world" and let the chance slip past.
Readers are taken through Billy's final year of life from the sister who perhaps loves him the most. Although Anna does not fully understand everything about the disease, she makes a loving decision to stand by her brother as he gets sicker and sicker.
Anderson draws on her time spent as an AIDS activist to show readers that the disease first found among homosexuals is now one which has the ability to strike down anyone.