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I first read about Paige Rawl in Seventeen magazine a few years ago, but did not know that she had written a memoir until a few months ago. When I came across Positive in the online DC library, I decided to check it out. I figured it was going to be a book of facts, not expecting it was going to be a much more personal account.

Paige Rawl is a young adult who was born HIV positive. She found out when she was young, after her mother revealed that her father had given it to her (Paige’s mother) due to unfaithfulness. Her memoir documents her experiences that she had at her grade school after telling her best friend that she was HIV positive. She faced severe bullying from her classmates and indifference from the administrators when she sought help.

I liked how honest Rawl was with her writing. She describes a suicide attempt and the time spent at a stress center as a result. She writes about how it took her years to get over her bullying experiences. She didn’t try to sugarcoat her experiences at all.

One of the other aspects I liked about this story is that Rawl doesn’t try to push the common advice that ignoring bullies will make them go away or that you’ll get over the taunts quickly. Bullying is real. I myself experienced teasing and taunting at a young age and it definitely affected the way I ended up, as it does to a lot of people.

Rawl turned her negative experiences into something positive by becoming a speaker on HIV/AIDS for the American Red Cross. Rawl acknowledges that although she still is affected by the bullying, she has a “positive” perspective on life.

Positive was a great read. At only 21, Paige Rawl has already accomplished a lot of things. I look forward to see what her future work will be.





Things I Can’t Forget

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Today is another snow day for the city of D.C. As I write this, I’m looking out the window at the snow-covered cars and snowbanks that fill the street. Since it’s winter, I decided to review a novel that takes place during the summer, Things I Can’t Forget. 

This novel is by Miranda Kenneally, an author who’s written other books that focus around relationships and sometimes sports. This story is about Kate, a recent high school graduate who gets a job working at a summer camp. Although excited about working at the camp, Kate is dealing with a guilty conscience after helping her friend through an experience that went against Kate’s beliefs. The help of her new friends at the camp and reconnecting with an old camp friend helps Kate learn how to deal with past situations and look forward to new ones.

To be honest, I didn’t find this book to be good as Kenneally’s other novels. The plot of reconnecting with old friends at camp has been done before, and it felt more like a Sarah Dessen novel.

However, I did find the character of Kate to be interesting. Although eighteen, Kate hasn’t had the same experiences as most people her age, such as going to parties or being in relationships. She reminded me a little of myself, as I found that I had more experiences in college than in high school. I also remember the summer between high school graduation and the start of college to be a confusing one; it being a transition from something familiar to something entirely new.

Overall, Things I Can’t Forget is worth a read if you’re interested in complex characters than a real plot.


Far From You

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January has been a busy month for me. I’ve been at my new job for almost six months now, but am still getting used to having a permanent position. I’ve been trying to work out more and handle my stress, which has proved to be challenging. Plus, we in D.C. are now experiencing a massive blizzard that has shut down the Metrorail and Bus Services all this weekend. This should give me plenty of time to catch up on my blogging.

Fortunately, I made it to the library last weekend and was able to pick up some new books to read. Today, I’m going to review Far From You, a novel by American author Tess Sharpe.

The plot follows Sophie Winters, a seventeen-year-old who has recently finished a three-month stint in rehabilitation. This follows a traumatic incident where she and her best friend Mina were confronted by a masked person who shot Mina and planted drugs on Sophie to make it look like a drug deal gone bad. Sophie herself is a recovering drug addict who became hooked on her medication after a car accident when she was fourteen, but had been clean for several months up until the attack. Sophie is determined to find out who killed Mina and solve a years-old mystery at the same time.

What I liked about this novel is how realistic it was. Sharpe portrays her characters with real flaws: someone who has a drug addiction and is maybe attracted to both genders, people who have lost loved ones and people who are living with secrets. These are all issues that people experience in real life and struggle to hide from the outside world. I liked how the mystery of Mina’s killer was weaved into these real life issues, as I found myself asking whether or not this person was a suspect. The novel is written in the format of flashbacks, switching from present to the time of the accident to the months before Mina’s death.

Overall, Far From You is good mystery, but might be a little intense for those who have lost loved ones to murder incidents or drug addictions.


Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

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I admit, I watched the trailer for the movie adaptation of this book, so I already had an idea of what it was going to be about. But I had no idea what the format of this book was actually going to be.

Written by American author Jesse Andrews, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl appropriately tells the story of Greg Gaines, his friend Earl jackson, and Greg’s classmate Rachel Kushner, the “dying girl.” When Greg finds out that Rachel has been diagnosed with cancer, his mom encourages (well, more like forces) him to spend time with her. A series of funny events play out over the course of his senior year as he gets to know Rachel better. Him and Earl’s friendship is defined by their different home lives, but mutual interest in making movies.

The most interesting quality of this book is the way it’s written. Greg tells it journal style in first-person narrative, through a series of different format. He uses prose writing, screenplay format, bullet lists, mock newspaper articles and more ways. Although it may sound a little strange, the formats flowed very well together and suited each situation. As I’m a very visual person, the screenplay parts made it easy to imagine the scene playing out.

As for the overall plot of the book, I felt it was a little predictable, but contained themes that were relatable. Overall, this is a different kind of book that is worth a read, if you like various writing formats.