Positive, a memoir that I will never forget, gives us the story of a young girl named Paige who was born with HIV. She grew up thinking she was just like the other kids (health wise) until she learned that she was born with the disease. Soon, she confided in her best friend she thought would have some compassion since her friend’s mother was fighting a crippling disease (Multiple Sclerosis), but her friend did not. The news Paige told her friend in confidence immediately began circulating around the school and Paige became the center of bullying.
There were moments in this book I felt was a bit immature, but she was only in middle school when this happened to her. I do not feel I have the right to review a memoir, per say, so I will say that I thought it was well written. The information she shared with us about HIV was very understandable, especially to the layperson who does not know a ton about HIV. Even though she did have a hard time in school and her health, she didn’t fail to mention the good things she was experiencing as well. She didn’t make it a complete sob story. I respect that.
This book showed me just how much people will go out of ignorance. I’m sure if she had more support from her school in advocating HIV and having information available for the students, then all of this could have been avoided. What I REALLY liked about this book is that yes, this is her story about growing up with HIV, but she did not make it completely about her. She realized that bullying can happen to anyone. She saw it as something bigger than her. She took steps to make sure no one else would go through it. She also mentioned cases of other young people who actually committed suicide because of bullying.
Paige has done so many public appearances before this book and after it was published. I am really proud of her. I am proud of her for turning something that could have been a tragedy into something powerful and a way to help others who are experiencing a life similar to hers or those who get bullied because they’re different.
I cannot recommend this book enough. I especially recommend it to pre-teens and teens because it deals with a lot of issues they go through during that awkward time of their lives and maybe they can show more compassion to those (specifically the outcasts) around them. Paige used her story to inspire others and noted that there is a strength in being different. People can come together and find a common ground just through knowing they are different from those around them. There is power in turning the worst thing that could ever happen to you into something positive.