Taking Turns, Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371

Czerwiec, MK

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Graphic Novel

Annotated by:
Natter, Michael
  • Date of entry: Nov-13-2017
  • Last revised: Nov-13-2017


Taking Turns, Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371, is a graphic novel written and illustrated by nurse and artist, MK Czerwiec. In it, she details what it was like to be a nurse during the AIDs epidemic in Chicago in the 1990s. The book, however, is much more than a story about AIDS care during that time. Czerweic tackles patient/provider relationships, boundaries, hospital struggles, the role of art in medicine and healing, but most profoundly: death and dying. 


Within a quickly emerging and popular new genre for the medical community – graphic medicine – Czerwiec’s novel deserves a spot among the must-reads.  Her simple panels, bright with color and minimalistic with line, are the perfect juxtaposition to the powerful and deep themes she addresses.  In keeping her illustrations basic, she creates an inviting environment, which draws the reader in and allows the weight of what she is conveying to land. Czerwiec is able to harness her illustrations for didactic purposes as well, breaking down difficult to understand medical science (like that of HIV, pharmacology and more) into easily digestible and charming graphics. As her audience, we get a glimpse of the trying journey of medical training that nurses undergo, but what is not as readily spoken about, which is the core of the book, is the emotional and nuanced human dramas that medical professionals endure daily.


Penn State University Press

Place Published

University Park, PA



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