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Summary: Ana is a young Latina born with HIV. She watched her mother, father, and baby sister succumb to AIDS. After her mother’s death, Ana and her younger sister, Isobel, were sworn to secrecy by their grandmother about being HIV positive. In their village, people with HIV or AIDS were banished from the community. Relatives took the girls in to provide them a safe place to live. Unfortunately, male relatives and friends sexually abused the sisters, threatening them with expulsion or death if they ever revealed what was going on. In this book, Ana shares her unbelievable experiences with the reader. This is a biography drawn from Jenna Bush's experience working with UNICEF. It is for high school students, but written at a middle-grade level.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 10 to 12; read yourself: 12 and Up
Young Reader Reaction: Anna’s Story was a very interesting read and had numerous sad events, such as Anna’s mom dying from AIDS when Anna was three years old. It is so depressing to think about what these very young children (at the time) had to go through for about a third of their lives. This non-fiction novel has many high points to it and a few low points. For instance it was written very well and was easy enough to follow. But on the other hand, it was divided into many chapters that were just randomly there. Also, it seemed to rush through the end of the book and there wasn’t a very proper ending. I would recommend this book to all teen readers, because it might be a tad inappropriate for people under the age of 10.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a wonderful and moving biography. The story is compelling. Ana is real and her courage and determination are boundless. This is neither an ego trip nor a feel good book, This is no teary, sentimental one. It does, however, leave the reader in awe of this young woman and her sisters, all over the world, who are coping with the challenges that life has given them.
Pros: This is an inspiring biography that will captivate teens because of its genuine tell-it-like-it-is presentation. It will educate kids about the day-to-day impact of HIV/AIDS in countries all over the globe.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. Reading Ana’s story is educational but more importantly, it focuses on the raw determination and courage of human beings to meet insurmountable challenges. Ana and her sisters are showing us the way to make the world a better place.
Educational Themes: The primary educational value of the book is Ana’s story. It sheds light on how people and communities react to fear and the unknown. Ana was constantly challenged and had many opportunities to give up but she remained determined to control her destiny. The topics for discussion are broad and also personal.
Notes: This book is available in English and Spanish editions. Flesch Kincaid reading level 7.9
Literary Categories: Nonfiction - biography, cultures and tradition, health, illness, young adult
Date(s) Reviewed: August 2008, March 2009
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