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Paige Rawl is the author of "Positive," a memoir documenting her life since she was diagnosed HIV-positive when she was in middle school. "Positive" is the latest pick for TODAY's Book Club. Head here for more information.
As you finish up Rawl's memoir, she offers her three favorite inspirational memoirs as possibilities for your next read.
"My Story" by Ryan White
I read Ryan’s autobiography shortly after I’d withdrawn from my middle school in favor of home-schooling. It put my own experiences with HIV, and with bullying, into a broader context. Before learning about Ryan, I hadn't known the history of HIV in America; I hadn't understood just how big of a stigma there had been around HIV/AIDS. Although the world had changed for the better since Ryan was diagnosed, I could see that hadn't yet changed enough. Ryan fought to attend school at all; I was fighting to attend school with dignity. The fact that he was a middle-school kid from Indiana made me feel even more connected to him. The most amazing thing about Ryan was what a positive, gentle soul he was. He saw some of the ugliest sides of humanity, yet he never turned to hate. Ryan was an incredible inspiration; his legacy and spirit guide me every day.
"13 Reasons Why" by Jay Asher
Though not an autobiography or memoir, this is is a powerful book; it’s got a gripping premise and a haunting voice. Above all, though, I love the way Jay Asher reveals the powerful effect that small actions (and small inactions) can have on others. It’s so easy to think that the tiny encounters we have with one another don’t matter. But casual interactions have tremendous power. They can lead to tragedy ... or to hope. I loved this book when I read it, so I was stunned and honored when I learned that Jay Asher had written the foreword to my own book, "Positive."
"Ana’s Story" by Jenna Bush
This nonfiction work opened my eyes to the impact of both poverty and HIV/AIDS around the world. Infected with HIV at birth, Ana loses her parents, suffers brutal abuse, and struggles to build a better life for her own child. It’s a heartbreaking story, but it’s also hopeful. Ana has an extraordinary strength and resilience; she’s determined to live with HIV, not die from it. As I read it this book I felt remarkable gratitude for my own circumstances — above all, that my mom has always been around to fight for me and protect me from harm.
Head here for more information on TODAY's Book Club and Paige Rawl's memoir "Positive," and head here to join the online conversation with Rawl from The Atlantic + MAC AIDS Fund Town Hall on Activism Nov. 14.