Ana's life is a collection of bits and pieces of her past. Infected with HIV at birth, she's unaware of many details of her early childhood and barely remembers her mother. Living with her strict grandmother, she learns how to keep secrets – secrets about her infection and about the abuse she endures at home. But after Ana falls in love and becomes pregnant at seventeen, she begins a journey of hope – a journey of protecting herself and others. She is living with HIV, not dying from it.
Jenna Bush tells of Ana's struggle to break free from the cycle of abuse, silence, and illness with passion and eloquence. But this is not just Ana's story. It is also the story of many children around the world who are marginalized, neglected, and mistreated.
As an intern with UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean, Bush, the daughter of the president, was assigned to document the lives of poor children; in a preface, she writes about how impressed she was to hear a 17-year-old single mother resolutely announce, in a group for people with HIV/AIDS, "We are not dying with AIDS; we are living with it." For more than six moths, Bush met with the mother, Ana, and later interviewed others, inspired by Ana's resilience. Here, in what she terms narrative nonfiction, she creates "a mosaic of life, using words instead of shards of broken tile to create an image of her past and a framework for her future." Short segments reveal Ana's scarred childhood. Ana is orphaned, told never to reveal her HIV status lest she be ostracized, sexually abused by her grandmother's boyfriend, beaten and sent to reform school. Not until she lands in a group home for people with HIV/AIDS do things begin to look up, and then only temporarily: Ana falls in love with a boy resident, gets pregnant the one and only time they don't use a condom, and the boy grows too sick to be of much help (the thought of terminating the pregnancy never comes up). Despite unexceptional, sometimes awkward writing ("The passion, the attraction, the butterflies had flown away"), Bush's compassion for her subject comes through clearly. Even (and maybe especially) when Ana behaves imperfectly or questionably, Bush focuses on Ana's pain and ability to transcend it, helping readers to avoid judging Ana and to feel strong empathy. Back matter includes information on HIV/AIDS and abuse, notes on ways to help others and a discussion guide; the final art, which includes color photos, was not seen by PW. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Ages 14-up.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Since 9th grade
I had to read this book for summer reading, and it's been my favorite since then!! I'm a jr in college now
This book is the best of the best. It's the story of hope and how a girl continues to live with HIV all her life and how she says, "We are not living with it, we are surviving." People should read this book and how they have tips and guidelines on how to stay healthy and websites to go to get help.
Amazing book ever read
Its a really awesome book I read it like 10 times um thinking it's my favorite book today