About the Book

Title: Baby Alicia Is Dying
Published: 1993

Drinking Game Tally: 20 drinks
Featured Ailments: HIV-Positive Babies

Cover Story

Thank god we have these generous white children to take care of our black, abandoned HIV-positive babies.

Featured Ailments

All the babies at ChildCare house are HIV-positive. It’s kind of hard to make jokes about HIV-positive babies.

The So-Called Plot

Desila knows all about parental neglect, because her mom and dad totally love her big sister Valerie more. This is probably why they named her Desila. While her parents are busy moving Valerie into college instead of caring that Desi is starting high school, Desi starts hanging out at a home for HIV-Positive babies and is instantly enamoured with the particularly adorable baby Alicia.

Deciding that she has no interest in extracurriculars at school despite having never tried any of them, Desi signs up to be a volunteer at ChildCare. Her mother is really unhappy about it because it’s 1993 and people are dumbasses who think AIDS is catching, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. Desi’s classmates also find out and are a bunch of dicks. One of her lab partners gets transferred to a different group because she thinks Desi will give her AIDS, and some other kids graffiti her locker with something so offensive that I refuse to transcribe it here. The only people who are not horrible are Perfect Valerie, who is busy complaining about how vapid she is and how she wished she did more meaningful things in high school like Desi, and Brian, Desi’s hot lab partner whom she refuses to acknowledge is attractive. Turns out Brian’s gay uncle had AIDS and died alone in a hospice in New York because people like Brian were horrible to him when he was alive, and now he’s all sad and remorseful.

Despite everyone’s protestations, Desi continues to work at ChildCare and become unhealthily attached to Baby Alicia, because Baby Alicia is like that baby in Misfits that has the superpower of making people want to be his parents. When Baby Alicia’s mother wants to meet with her daughter after being cleaned up and drug-free, Desi freaks out. Brian must really want to get in Desi’s pants, because he agrees to stalk the mother with her against all better judgement.

And then, Baby Alicia gets really, really sick. This comes to a shock to Desi, who apparently hasn’t noticed that she works in a house for HIV-positive babies or is in the very unsubtly-named Baby Alicia Is Dying. In her sadness, she finally bonds with her mother, who has always been a frigid bitch because Desi’s older brother died of SIDS when he was 3 months old. When Desi came along, her mom had what sounds like monster case of untreated postpartum depression, and they’ve had a terrible relationship ever since. But Baby Alicia dies and brings them closer together than ever before! Yay! And Baby Alicia’s Teen Mom is going back to school to get her diploma! Everyone wins! Except Baby Alicia, I guess.

Notes from the Margin

Let’s start with an excerpt from the back cover, shall we?

Now 8 month old Alicia lives at ChildCare because she was given away by her sick teenage mother. Desi can relate to being unloved. Her parents give her all the material things she needs, but there seems to be a wall between her mother and herself.

You’re right, Desi. Your suburban white girl problems are pretty much identical to those of the HIV-Positive infant born to a drug-addicted teenage mother.

Desi didn’t think any mother deserved to have her baby returned if she had deliberately rejected it.

As always, Desi is totally right. When an impoverished, drugged-out new mother hands her sick baby over because she knows she cannot take care of it, and then cleans up, turns her life around, and can prove that she’s competent and can provide for her child, she should still never be allowed to see her baby again.

“It’s a real downer that she may have AIDS someday.”

Fucking DUH. Thanks Valerie. It’s no wonder everyone thinks you’re the dumb sister.

[She] looked around. Fresh mauve paint, matched floral-patterned sofas, and gorgeous arrangements of silk flowers made the living room look like a page from a decorator’s magazine.

That… sounds… hideous.

“People who hate everyone who’s different–blacks, gays, any minority–it doesn’t matter. They’re misguided jerks who spout ‘ethnic purity’ and have no tolerance for anyone who’s different from them. I think it’s a disease worse than AIDS.”

Amen! Congratulations, Brian. You singlehandedly made this book almost tolerable!


Alix is a writer and illustrator who spends way too much time reading Jane Austen retellings of varying quality.