I think it was really interesting and I learned a lot about the culture of Pakistan and part of me really wants to visit her beautiful valley someday.I think it was really interesting and I learned a lot about the culture of Pakistan and part of me really wants to visit her beautiful valley someday. I was hoping there would be less about her father and what he was doing and more about her life as a girl in school and a girl in advocacy. Basically I think the whole thing should have been more like the last 1/4 of the book. ...more
This book was powerful. Before I was even half way through I was both angry and upset with so many people in her life that I just wanted to reach throThis book was powerful. Before I was even half way through I was both angry and upset with so many people in her life that I just wanted to reach through the book and slap them across the face. The kids not only instantly turn from best friends to cruel enemies (as so many do in Middle School), but also instantly treat her as if she has the plague. They giggle if someone even bumps into her (because she's got AIDS!). However, most of my anger was towards her Middle School guidance counselor. This woman who was supposed to help her and guide her told her to stop being dramatic when kids started calling her PAIDS (their nickname that combined Paige & AIDS). The worst part is when she first tells her guidance counselor that she is having issues with people bullying her about having HIV, the following scene takes place:
"Well, but you don't have HIV...do you?" "Well..." I paused, "Well, yeah. I do." Miss Ward's face changed then. It froze for an instant, then drained of color. I swear, her skin grew so white that her makeup looked like a pastel mask. She pressed her lips together and swallowed. "I see." She began to stand up, then she sat back down again. Her phone rang, but she did not pick it up -- she just sat there with that blank look on her face...Then her lipstick-red mouth widened into an enormous smile. Her blushed cheeks pulled toward her ears, and her giant earrings flashed. "Well," she said brightly. "You know what you could do?" She leaned in toward me like the two of us were about to share a delightful secret. "You could just deny having HIV!" She beamed at me. The way she said it made it seem like that was the answer to everything. I sat in silence for a long time, trying to make sense of her words, trying to figure out how her suggestion was helpful in anyway. Because, of course, I did have HIV. (p. 71)
Are you kidding me?! She told a 6th grader to just lie to everyone about having HIV?? How could that ever help her in anyway? I thought it was strange when earlier in the book, Paige mentioned that her counselor used to be her moms PE teacher, now I am convinced this lady should not be guiding kids in anything. And sadly, this wasn't the only adult to say something completely and horrifically out of line. Her 8th grade soccer coach actually told her mother that they could use Paige's HIV status to their advantage because other kids would be afraid to touch her.
Paige really did a wonderful job at making you feel like you were a kid again, being bullied for something you had no control over. It was in these moments that you wanted to curl up and cry with her and for her:
I swear, I was doing everything I could to keep it normal. I was doing everything I could to keep those kids from bothering me. But the next day, as I walked into the cafeteria, a boy came up to me, walked right up to my face, and said "Hi, PAIDS," and I just wanted to crawl into a hole...I wanted to say something, to should something, but didn't know what to say. Just like I didn't know what to say when I heard "PAIDS" in the hallway, "PAIDS" as I walked to science, "PAIDS" by the lockers, in the gyms, sitting down in math class. (p. 99) But the book wasn't all sad (she even says in the description that her story "isn't a sad one"! She also shared so many of those wonderful Middle School moments, such as making cheer-leading and having her crush talk to her in the hallway. However, at times it feels like it was written by a child. Most of the sentences are simple and nothing is really too detailed. On one hand, this was a positive for the book because, a) even kids as young as 6th grade could understand the book and what it is trying to say; and b) it helps us feel like we are a 6th grade girl while reading it. Yet on the other hand, at times it almost felt like it was written too juvenile for teens and young adults to stay interested. Of course, Paige isn't trying to be the next Judy Blume or Lois Lowry, she is simply trying to get her story out so hopefully kids will be able to understand what it is like to grow up HIV positive; what it's like to be bullied by everyone; what it's like to be different.
But by the end the writing style didn't matter, because her words and actions as she got older were just so wonderful and powerful. I don't even know how to actually describe it other than it went from 3.5 to an easy 5 star book....more
It was a good book, perfect for younger readers. What I didn't like what was it felt like she kept repeating herself at the beginning of each chapterIt was a good book, perfect for younger readers. What I didn't like what was it felt like she kept repeating herself at the beginning of each chapter instead of just continuing the story. But overall good....more