Positive : Surviving My Bullies, Finding Hope, and Living to Change the World
by Rawl, Paige; Benjamin, Ali (CON); Asher, Jay (FRW)

A teen survivor of bullying describes how her HIV positive status was discovered at school and made her the target of abuse by peers and school officials, actions that prompted a suicide attempt and subsequent dedication to advocacy.

Paige Rawl thinks of herself as many things: a daughter, a student, a beauty queen, an athlete, a friend. She is a girl born with HIV, as well, but that was never something she thought about much until the day she casually mentioned her HIV-positive status to a friend. Within hours, everyone at her middle school knew, and Paige would spend the next few years shunned, taunted, and bullied by students and teachers alike. Eventually, the abuse got so intense that she tried to take her own life. Now 19, having survived that and worse, Rawl offers this poignant, introspective memoir that combats in equal parts the stigma that lingers around HIV/AIDS and the still-raging bullying epidemic so prevalent in middle and high schools today. Rawl is unfailingly gracious, upbeat but never saccharine, and wise and reflective beyond her years. Her memoir provides an excellent perspective to the antibullying movement and would be a valuable addition to any collection. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Rawl’s journey from secrecy to acceptance thanks to her friends and family makes for a compelling memoir.As a child, Paige saw her daily doses of medicine as normal—not strange at all. It wasn’t until she was in sixth grade that her mother told her that Paige had been born with HIV. That revelation ends her idyllic life in Indianapolis, forever transforming the energetic girl who did cheerleading, pageants and soccer. Because when Paige tells her best friend, Yasmine, about her HIV-positive status, the news spreads through her middle school, prompting bullies to target Paige and accuse her of having AIDS. Now known as “PAIDS,” Paige loses interest in school, suffers from stress-induced pseudo-seizures and even attempts suicide. But slowly, thanks to counseling, time at a camp for kids affected by HIV/AIDS and all her friends, Paige learns how to forgive and move on with her life. Rawl and Benjamin deftly capture the mindset of middle schooler Paige with anecdotes that reveal the teen’s innocence and naïveté, tracking her progress toward adulthood. They tackle tough subjects such as suicide delicately but honestly.Readers will come away feeling inspired by Rawl’s work as an HIV/AIDS speaker and anti-bullying advocate. (author’s note, further resources) (Nonfiction. 12-16) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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