Poison Reality: A Symphony of Bittersweet is a book full of poison. Within its pages, we are introduced to rapists, alcoholics, adulterers and murderers. Nedyne Shorts-Nettles set out to show how a life that is started with bad treatment continues on that path indefinitely until the individual decides to diverge into goodness.
A few examples: we have Greg, who cheats on his wife, Vierna, and ends up marrying the "other woman" while still married to Vierna. His illegal wife, Melissa, is brutally murdered and discarded, putting Greg into a catatonic state. Terry is raped brutally while at a hotel for a travel seminar. The rape results in a pregnancy and AIDS. However, Terry finds God in the midst of her misery and eventually unknowingly befriends her rapist. Skeets is hoping to join a gang. While performing the initiation act of stealing a car, he unknowingly takes the car with Melissa's body in it, and is therefore charged with her murder. He is raped and killed in prison.
Shorts-Nettles seems to lay a little heavy on the unfortunate choices people make or the circumstances that occur to them. While I know she is just trying to emphasize how bad begets bad, the numerous bad occurrences seemed to reach beyond "reality". One of the last scenes in the book, while highly dramatic, just didn't seem plausible. Shorts-Nettles does have a lot of interesting ideas that weave together the various characters in this book. However, I did find it a bit confusing to keep track of the number.
I did find the time that the stories are set in to be fascinating - the dawn of AIDS in America, when we didn't know how people got and transmitted the disease. While this time in history was not so long ago that it was before my "time", it was long enough ago that we can look back with a sense of wonder at what we didn't know was yet to come and change.
Overall, I liked this book and I would recommend it to readers who also enjoy soap operas. This book was written in that style, with very quick scenes that rotate throughout characters quickly. While I don't usually watch soap operas, I did enjoy this technique, as I was able to refresh my palate with a different story every few pages.