Advance Praise


“A compassionate, intelligent novel, part medical thriller. Only someone there at the start could've written it.”  
Bill BarichBig Dreams: Into the Heart of California

“Doctors navigating the intersections of suffering, ambition, and discovery in the first decade of AIDS… a moving, insightful story” 
Krista BremerMy Accidental Jihad

“A powerful and impressive work of fiction that authentically evokes with authenticity the bad and the good for those who were there.” 
Eric Goosby, MD, US Global AIDS Coordinator, 2009–2013

Sensing Light by Mark Jacobson, a doctor who worked with early HIV-infected patients and continues to practice medicine today, is a compelling story of the onset of the AIDS epidemic shown through the eyes of three doctors at a San Francisco public hospital. Although historical fiction, the novel reads like a creative non-fiction exploration of the pathos and uncertainty of those early days when gay men were dying and no one could figure out why. The characters are all too human; their battles both internal and external as they attempt to make sense of the horror around them.”
Gayle Shanks, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstore, Phoenix, AZ, and former president of the American Booksellers Association. 

“The AIDS epidemic emerges at Ground Zero—San Francisco in  the 1980s. This riveting drama poignantly captures the raw emotions at the intersection of patients, health professionals, and a society unprepared for a new epidemic.” 
Diane Havlir, MD, Chief, UCSF Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital

“In his page-turner of a novel, Mark Jacobson drops the reader straight into the action—the early days of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, when the then-mysterious disease was killing people in unprecedented and chilling numbers. Only a first-person participant could have created characters so believable and a story so gripping. I loved every word of this unforgettable book” 
Jessica O’Dwyer, author of Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir

“Capturing the essence of the first phase of the HIV epidemic’s arc, Sensing Light is a sensitive and moving tribute to the heroism and tragedy of a time when AIDS was a certain death sentence. As told by an author, himself a physician in the thick of this battle, the book follows a small group of doctors, their families and their patients as they face a challenge more daunting than any they or the reader could imagine. As was the case in the actual epidemic, the characters and patients were young and often still coming to their own maturity, and some were personally affected by their own risk or actuality of HIV infection. The characters are fully developed and believable and draw the reader into a world of hope and loss, courage and fear. The medical facts in the book are completely accurate while never becoming a barrier to the lay audience. The final histories of AIDS are yet to be written, but this fictional account breathes life and emotion into the epidemic’s early days in a remarkable and moving way. This is a wonderful first novel that leaves us asking for the next part of the story.” 
Paul Volberding, MD, Director, UCSF AIDS Research Institute and Chief, AIDS Program, San Francisco General Hospital, 1983–2001

Reviews and Interviews reviews of Sensing Light posted on Goodreads

Grateful for the following review by Amos Lassen:  

“Sensing Light” by Mark A. Jacobson — Three Doctors and AIDS

Interview with Kris Welch, KPFA

Listen to Mark’s interview about Sensing Light with Kris Welch on radio station KPFA (it starts at 32:45 minutes).

Interview with Deborah Kalb

Read Mark’s interview with writer and book critic Deborah Kalb.

Review of Sensing Light in the New York Journal of Books

Sensing Light reviewed in San Jose Mercury News Books by the Baynew releases by Bay Area authors

Sensing Light is one of Lambda Literary's top five picks for New in July

Gar Smith's review of Sensing Light in The Berkeley Daily Planet

From readers in Portland

David Perry interviews Mark on his cable TV show 10 Percent

David Perry interviews Mark Jacobson, author of the novel Sensing Light

Interview by Rose City Reader:

Mark describes how he was inspired to write Sensing Light for Diary of an Eccentric Reader (see October 14, 2016 post) at

From a young adult reviewer.

From Svetlana's Reads and Views

A review from Readaholic Zone

An interview with Eva Lucia from Denmark and her review.

Review by an impressively articulate young adult reader

Video of Mark's UCSF Osher Mini Medical School for the Public presentation and interview