In this compelling and compulsively readable memoir, nineteen-year-old Paige Rawl tells the story of how she was mercilessly bullied in middle school...and how she overcame the ordeal to change her world for the better.
In this astonishing memoir, Paige tells a story that is both deeply personal and completely universal—one that will resonate deeply with the thousands of children and adults whose lives have been touched by bullying.
Paige Rawl has been HIV positive since birth…but growing up, she never felt like her illness defined her. It never prevented her from entering beauty pageants or playing soccer or making the honor role.
On an unremarkable day in middle school, while attempting to console a friend, Paige disclosed her HIV-positive status—and within hours the bullying began. She was called "PAIDS," first in whispers, then out in the open. Her soccer coach joked that she was an asset because opposing team members would be too afraid to touch her. Her guidance counselor told her to stop all the “drama,” and her principal said she couldn’t protect her. One night, desperate for escape, Paige swallowed fifteen sleeping pills—one for each year of her life to date. That could have been the end of her story. Instead, it was only the beginning.
The gripping first-person account of Paige’s life will pull in even the most reluctant readers of nonfiction, and her call to action to choose compassion over cruelty will stay with them long after they turn the last page.
Goodreads | Source: ARC provided by Harper Collins via BEA
What struck me the most is Paige Rawl's brightness - for lack of a better word. Despite growing up HIV positive - taking meds every day, constant visits to the hospital - she's a happy kid who has big hopes and dreams for her future. She's so outgoing, vibrant and kind and it was sad to see that light slowly snuffed out by cruelty.
As tough as it was to read about what Paige's supposed best friends did to her after finding out her HIV status, it was really difficult to wrap my head around the adult reactions. These are the people meant to protect her - and they failed in every way possible.
Paige had a horrible experience but was lucky to have people who stood by her and she also has a wonderful, fierce mom (I bet she has a fascinating story to tell). We’re lucky Paige is so willing to share her experiences to help others. She struggles to decide how much anger to hang on to. Anger can push you forward to make changes but it can also hold you back, making you fearful to live life.
This was a surprisingly light and hopeful read despite the subject matter. Rawl does a wonderful job describing both the ups and downs, explaining HIV/AIDS and tying it together with the recent cases of bullying currently making headlines.
Positive is a YA novel but I would really love if more adults would read it. There are a lot of people who use fear of the unknown to treat people poorly and Positive shows how that kind of rhetoric effects real people's lives.
“Are we so convinced that our world is just, that it’s fair, that we can be sure that people are always, somehow, to blame for everything bad that strikes them? Is there no such thing as bad luck?
Or, maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe we’re so afraid of bad luck that we punish those who have it – punish them ruthlessly – as a defense against any bad luck that might strike us. Or maybe we’re at once so tribal, and so insecure, that we only know that we’re inside a group by punishing someone ese outside.
Or, who knows, perhaps it all comes down to this: humans are afraid of what they don’t understand. And we are at our absolute worse when we are afraid.
I don’t know. I don’t expect I’ll ever know.
I just know it has to stop.”