Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl, Ali Benjamin

Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl, Ali Benjamin
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.


Publishes in US: August 26th 2014 by HarperCollins
Genre: memoir (reads like contemp)
Source: Harper Teen
Series? No

Buy it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your local independent bookstore.

Author stalk away: Paige ~site ~twitter =
Ali: site blog


   This must be my week of branching out from what I usually read and being rewarded. First I tried and liked a book narrated in poetry, and now a memoir. These types of reads aren't usually what I go searching for, though I have read some on cystic fibrosis and eating disorders. But when this came on my radar, I just had to get my hands on it. A girl who has HIV and with a suicide attempt but has so much hope now and life so turned back into the innocence before telling her friends about her HIV status. 

    This to me, reads like a fiction, but it hurts my heart to know that the cruelty and hatred really happened. It is based on real characters. Some for the good but not all. I couldn't help but cheer every time that Paige learned more about her self worth and was able to put little piece by little shard of the painful time in middle school when she was bullied for a disease that was not her fault, and despite what a lot of people are wrong about, is not easy to spread in a social situation. 

     The relationship Paige has with her mom is amazing. Her mom's attention to detail and being a yes mom really touched me. She was doing everything she could to keep herself and her daughter healthy and have the fullest life. But Paige's voice is what got me addicted. Unlike most fiction, we get a deeper look into her background. We get to the see the pills, the doctors on one side, that made her childhood different, and then her pageants, where she gained so many people skills and confidence. 

    At first Paige's friendship with Jasmine seemed so perfect for a middle school friendship. They were always together, talking about everything from boys to birthday parties. But I guess that middle school friendships, or at least not all of them can handle such a weighty secret. And though unfortunately this friendship along with Lila, Yasmine's sister continues to be a sore spot and source of pain for her. 

     I was glad to see the people in the book that stood by Paige, who let her know that it wasn't right what people had said and done to her and about her. They shared smiles, secrets and helped to lift her up. I loved hearing about the Aids walks, the camp for kids touched by hiv/aids where Paige was really able to be free. I am so proud of her that she was able to turn something awful, and then share with others through talks about bullying and the relation to suicide, getting involved with law making, and hopefully saving one other person, one at a time, that its never okay to say or do mean things to another person. No matter how different they seem, they all have a heart and soul that can be broken. 

Bottom Line: Powerful message delivered by a strong young lady.

My question to you, my lovely readers:
Have you had any experience with bullying?


  1. Bullying books make me feel sad enough as it is, but to know this is a true story? God, my heart would break with every page

  2. I have this one on my shelf and I'm looking forward to reading it.

    I wasn't really bullied. More ignored - I was so shy in school and people thought I was weird and avoided me except for my small group of friends.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

  3. This is why everyone should read this, or any HIV story, because a lot of it comes from ignorance really . :( Yeah, I have, but not as much compared to some.

  4. Wow, this sounds like it really pulls at your heart strings, and wahoo..look at your branching out and trying new things :)

  5. This sounds like a really well written memoir. I don't usually read them, but I might have to make an exception, but you've made me curious about this book. Very nice review!

  6. Sounds like a must be read memoir for any one who has suffered at the hands of a bully or even been a bully themselves. I think more people should be made aware of the impact bullying has.


  7. LOL I've actually read only one memoir and didn't like it so I think I should give it another chance. I really like the sound of it and I'm so happy you enjoyed it. Books that surprise you are the best kind ;)

  8. I hate to admit it, but I'm so very sensitive when it comes to these things. i think this book would break my heart in pieces.

  9. Wow, I usually steer clear of memoirs, but this one has definitely caught my interest. Her story sounds like an inspiring one. Great review!

  10. Ha! You do like all the sickness-related stuff so a memoir about HIV and suicide attempt totally sounds like something you could enjoy. This book seems so inspirational that I would even consider reading a memoir myself which I never do. So happy you enjoyed, Brandi!

  11. Wow! This sounds like a book everyone needs to read. I hope that things have changed a little since Paige's time. Bullying is wrong no matter what. I will have to check this out. Lovely review and recommendation, Brandi.

  12. Wow. I haven't heard of this book before, and I don't really know why not! I read one memoir that brought me tears in moments, called a Child Called It, which is definitely not for the faint hearted. I can't wait to try this, and I think it's admirable that she went ahead and released this book into the world. How brave.

    No, I have never had to deal with bullying. All my sisters did except me, and I did help my little sister get rid of some of her bullying cos she couldn't herself (she is disabled, in a wheelchair.)

    This is definitely going on my TBR!

    Check out my book review: http://olivia-savannah.blogspot.nl/2014/09/the-legacy-blog-tour-review.html

  13. I enjoy the occasional memoir myself and yes, some of them does feel like fiction until you realized that it's REAL. This girl is BRAVE to put this story out there and I'm sure she will inspire a LOT of people because of it.

  14. Ah yes it's a difficult topic and one I haven't read about. I think it would break my heart and at the same time I'm curious to discover her story.

  15. I would think it would be bad for that to be a secret, what if the girl hurt herself and the other kids too, and boom, infected. But then kids are cruel when they did know

  16. This one seems like such a powerful read! I love reading books along the lines of this one and that deal with such important seoruis issues! I'm glad you liked this one so much! i'll have to go out and read it.

  17. Isn't it great when you go outside your comfort zone and end up finding a gem of a book? Love that :) This one would be outside my comfort zone too, and from the sound of it, I think I would really appreciate it as well!

  18. This isn't the type of book I would pick up either, but it sounds like it was done well. I can never imagine having health issues like that, and being in those circumstances. Fantastic review Brandi!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

  19. This looks like a great, positive read!

  20. Wow, this sounds so powerful! I can't even imagine going through that, where even teachers don't stand by you. That's just SAD! This sounds like one I might actually read even though I don't usually do memoirs.

  21. Not sure if I would ever read this one, but I am glad you enjoyed it! The main character does sound very strong and it seems like she had a great support system. This one sounds sad, but uplifting in the end.

    Great review!

  22. I've been thinking of picking this one up and it's great to see that you enjoyed reading it. I think the world will be a better place when we choose to share positive messages with each other.


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