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We Are All the Same: A Story of a Boy's Courage and a Mother's Love
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We Are All the Same: A Story of a Boy's Courage and a Mother's Love

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  971 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
"Wooten has pulled off something close to miraculous... and touched the face of HIV/AIDS with compassion and humanity. —Alexandra Fuller, Chicago Tribune"This is a book not to be missed." —People

"Amazing and tender... in this special book [Wooten] brings home the tragedy of AIDS." —Liz Smith, New York Post

"Wooten rightly disregards journalistic distance and writes himself
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 25th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published December 1st 2004)
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Rating details
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Kristen Schell
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4-4.5 stars. This book touched my heart in so many ways! I thought the story of Nkosi Johnson was weaved so beautifully into the history of South Africa and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand more about South African history and HIV/AIDS history.
Annie Mesaros
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author does a great job of painting a picture of Nkosi's humanness, his connection with the past, present, and future of his society and country, and in so doing, makes the reader feel as though they too are connected to something bigger than themselves. Wooten points out that Nkosi, a young boy born HIV-positive, is a part of many families--not just his biological and foster families, but many others as well: The family that all black South Africans are a part of, that of all people who are ...more
Oct 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an absolutley amazing work of non-fiction. It details the life of a young African boy born HIV positive, who is given up for adoption by his mother who is gravely ill from full-blown AIDS. A white South African family adopts him, knowing full well that his ailments will eventually overcome him and that they will have to pay out of their pockets for his care. This young boy naturally becomes a part of the AIDS advocacy work in which his family is so involved in Africa and does some r ...more
Deb Stern
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, sweet, sad story of a mother(Daphne)putting her child before herself, another woman(Gail)strong and selfless, and a little, brave boy(Nkosi)that will live in my heart from this day forward. The story of these real life people is woven within daunting statistics of the HIV/AIDS outbreak in Africa. I am so bad at remembering names, but I will not forget these incredible people.
Jul 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A true story written by journalist Jim Wooten about his experiences with a family in S. Africa in which a little boy is suffering from AIDS. Soon to be a movie...
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This whole book could have been one magazine article. It dragged, and repeated, and dragged some more. Stick to TV Mr. Wooten. But kudos on reminding us of a great true story.
Lisa Hale
May 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Enlightening book on South Africa AIDS crisis and wonderful story of a very brave boy, Nkosi
Katie - Girl About Library
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review, and many more, are available on my blog Girl About Library!

I absolutely loved this book, and I was surprised how much I learned while reading it. If you are interested in South African history, apartheid, or AIDS- I think this book has a lot to offer. Nkosi Johnson's story really enhanced my understanding of the effect AIDS had on that area. His story is well woven into the history, statistics, and anecdotes the author included. A great non fiction read!
Sami Ki
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written, inspirational story about a magnetic little boy who always sought to do his best. I had a hard time putting this book down especially towards the end...I was touched and moved to tears!
Mike Maughan
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nkosi Johnson, young boy with AIDS, an adopted mother with courage and passion takes on the AIDS crisis in South Africa.

Tamale, Ghana. Recommended by Sadie Sharp
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good book. I enjoyed the message and getting to know the characters, but since it was written 15 years ago, much of the facts will not be new to you. Worth the read though.
Peg Schoenfelder
Mar 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
A brave story but reads like a reporter's reporting. It seems sort of lifeless.
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We Are All the Same: A Story of a Boy's Courage and a Mother's Love
By Jim Wooten
Reviewed by Alina Oswald

He is the Zulu boy who carries his mother's virus and who, because of his mother's last brave and selfless act before her death, ends up in the care of Gail Johnson, a white South African woman in charge of an AIDS hospice for white patients. Soon, Gail becomes Nkosi's foster mother and, together, they make history: they succeed in pursuing the authorities to allow HIV positive children to go
Jan 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in an amazing account of the life of truly courageous 12 child and his mothers.
Recommended to Megan by: randomly found it at Borders
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This book is amazing. One of the best books I have ever read. This is a true account of one reporters visits with a boy named Nkosi (HIV positive), his mother Daphne, and his adopted mother Gail. Gives great history of South Africa and the Aids Crisis and how this crisis has come to be such an epidemic in South Africa. Amazing story of love and courage. Here's the book info:

From Publishers Weekly
The author, an award-winning senior correspondent for ABC News, has written an extraordinarily movin
Jun 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Spoiler alert)
This book is a narrative of two families' interconnection--one Zulu, and one Anglo South African. The politics of South Africa and, to a lesser degree, of HIV infection, are interwoven with the families' narrative as it focuses on Nkosi, one South African boy living with HIV.

One senses not only that this is a book meant for the general, lay reader, and that the author had a limited kind of permission, emotionally, with his subjects. That is, the intensity of the subject, and the
Marjie Smith
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Spoiler alert
This is the amazing story of a young South African Zulu boy named Nikosi, whose HIV-positive mother inadvertently passed on the virus to him in the womb. This story interweaves Nikosa’s struggle to survive with South Africa’s terrible history of its treatment of blacks and its road to recovery. The book constructs the historical and environmental context for the rapid spread of the HIV virus in the country, describing how the Zulu homeland, along with that of other groups, was taken
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely believe that everyone should read this book. Parents and children alike. We in the US forget or sometimes, don't know, things that the rest of the planet has to deal with. I was sickened by the policies and the stubbornness of President Mbeki. The absurdity and stupidity of the statements and policies he was making were making me crazy. The aid that he turned away. He wanted all of the victims of AIDS to suffer and die, It seemed that it was his way of cleaning the slate, but his po ...more
Connie Tinoco
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wooten, Jim. We Are All The Same. New York: The Penguin Press, 2004. Print.

Wooten tells the story of Nkosi Johnson, a boy born in South Africa with the infected HIV virus. While Wooten tells his story, the reader learns the tragedies South African citizens had to go through because of the government’s denial of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Their stubborn refusal to actively search for a solution not only stonewalled progressive research, it allowed HIV & AIDS to grow exponentially. This source gi
Leigh Anne
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jerrod Carter
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Add up the trifecta of poverty, apartheid and AIDS and you sure get a horrifying story of human misery. From this stench of human failings, Jim Wooten carries forth the story of courage portrayed in Gail Johnson who passed on her fighting spirit to her foster son, Nkosi. Nkosi had all the strikes against him as he came into this world, even receiving HIV from his mother during his birth.

He survived many great obstacles to grow into boy who helped combat the ignorance, both innocent and wanton, t
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Nkosi is born with HIV...his mom has AIDS and eventually can not take care of him. Left at an adult home for those with HIV / AIDS Gail Johnson eventually adopts him. He lives to be 12 years old because he lives in a clean home with food and medicine. He becomes a spokesperson for HIV / AIDS cause. You can feel the tension between the relationships of Gail's family and Nkosi's family. The author finds himself looking at the disease in a more personal way after meeting Nkosi. I recommend it to ev ...more
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an amazing book. The story of Nkosi was truly inspiring. To know that he never even had a chance at life being born with AIDS, he still remained positive and upbeat. He seriously makes you look at your own life's priorities. To have Nelson Mandela recognize you and have wonderful words to say about you would have been an amazing accomplishment for Nkosi if he were alive to see it. His mother's dedication to her son and his health was powerful, to find him treatment with Gail Johnson, wa ...more
Jun 24, 2012 rated it liked it
A young black boy in Africa is taken in by a white woman; he is suffering with AIDS; race inequality in the country & a government that won't acknowledge the AIDS virus. She is part of a home for men with AIDS & she & the child become well known for his courage with his disease & her
care of the boy as they make the war on AIDS known.
I read a lot & am an impatient reader--I didn't like reading all the statistics in the book but
that's just me; it's written by a reporter in a re
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is an amazing story of a young black african boy and his journey through life born hiv positive. His birth mothers surrender of him and his unofficial adoption by white african. Their fight for his education, medicine and the aids community. Born into a country that covered up or denied the existence of hiv and aids throughout his life he and his mother Gail fought to better and enhance the life's of so many. I laughed and cried at Nkosi fought so courageously for a haven for mother's ...more
Mar 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Arryn by: my mom
This book touched me profoundly through its life-size portrayal of an AIDS orphan in apartheid South Africa. Nkosi Johnson's vibrant personality and enduring spirit are beautifully portrayed. Even so, Wooten doesn't gloss over the tragic details of life in a divisive South Africa during the last few decades. The writing is somewhat journalistic, but provides an important political backdrop for the human-interest story that is told with optimistic realism (or realistic optimism). Nkosi is a hero ...more
May 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of this boy (who was born HIV positive and died of AIDS at age of 12) was amazing. I learned a lot about African, especially South African, society and their history. It was educational. But somehow the style of writing (or whatever that was) didn't pull me into the book until near the end. Overall, it was a very good story - touching, yet educational/information enough to help me increase understanding of the disease and the society.
Shazeena Taherbhai
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jim Wooten gives a soul and voice to the aid's epidemic in Africa. It's a raw and emotional account of a little boy who is the youngest AID's advocate this world and South Africa has ever seen. His name was Nkosi Johnson and though his life was cut short his spirit will live on. I was truly touched by Wooten's words I admit it did bring tears to my eyes a few times. It's a tale of unconditional love, heart ache, and overcoming stigma and obstacles.
Nkosi Johnson's story should be a lesson and a reminder to all that as humans, the only thing that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is our compassion and our ability to empathize with our fellow human beings. Gail Johnson demonstrated this in her unconditional love for this little boy that was but a stranger to her. Nkosi's courage motivated me to do more with my life and to not take life for granted. A poignant story, beautifully told.
Mar 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
It is eye opening, even to me who is close to this subject matter. Sad to think that this took place just a few years ago. You would think the world was far above it. It left me feeling like I wanted to do more. I will be doing further research to see if South Africa has come any further on the subject matter. I have so much respect for Gail. I would love to meet her and I wish there were more people in the world like her. Nkosi was just amazing!
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