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.