Orientation - Rick R. Reed I’m not quite sure how I feel about this story. My rating jumps back and forth between 3 and 4 stars. So I’ve settled for 4 stars, even though it should be 3.5.The first chapter takes place during Christmas of 1983 and starts out with Robert nursing his lover, Keith, who is dying of AIDS. Robert goes through a lot of expense to have the house decorated and prepares a lavish meal that Keith will never enjoy. Keith dies Christmas night. This chapter was very hard for me to read, as I lost a very dear friend to AIDS in 1992. Robert's pain and suffering was so vivid and heart wrenching. His love and devotion for Keith was so real and palpable. I just couldn't stop crying. Chapter 2 takes place during Christmas of 2007. Robert is 46 years old and living with his drug-addicted young lover, Ethan. Again, Robert prepares a lavish meal that goes to waste while Ethan is out and he drinks gin & tonics while remembering his loss 24 years before. While out for an evening walk, Robert comes across a young woman about to drown herself. Robert talks her out of it, brings her home, and has this sense of knowing her before. In time, Robert and Jess become very close and care deeply for each other, despite the fact that Jess is a lesbian. Jess begins to have dreams and recalls incidents from Keith’s and Robert’s past. I loved how well this story explores love, loss, grief, and loneliness. I loved the mouth-watering descriptions of Robert's food preparation, and the ravages of Ethan's drug addiction and his emotional state. It all felt very real to me. I didn't care for the reincarnation theme. It just wasn't explored thoroughly enough and felt a bit hokey to me. I also was disappointed in the ending, which felt contrived and diminished the power of this beautiful and moving story.