Wednesday, 1 December 2010

It Happened to Nancy, by anonymous author

2005, Avon Books 
288 pages, Paperback 
Borrowed from Caroline, reviewer on Portrait of a Woman  for World AIDS day 

Young Adult 

HIV, seduction leading to a rape (cleanly written, no graphic details), teen crush, teen hopes, teen friendship, self-isolation, burying head in sand, lasting friendship, 

Blurb from the book 
Fourteen-year-old Nancy thinks she's found true love with Collin, a handsome college student. She trusts him completely, but he rapes her and leaves her infected with the HIV virus. As the virus rages in her body, Nancy pours her deepest feelings to her diary - from the romance of her first love to the cruel realities of AIDS. 

Near the end of her life, Nancy decided to make her private thoughts public, in the hope of saving others from the same tragic fate. This is her diary.

Nayuleska's thoughts
This book is everything I wanted BEFORE I DIE by Jenny Downham to be. It is now one of my favourite books. Nancy doesn't hold back in her thoughts, because this was really from her diary, with names and place names changed to protect identities. At the start Nancy is very bubbly (which continues through most of the diary), fearless, and very much a 14 year old with a huge crush. Knowing what was going to happen, I mentally yelled NO! to Nancy. Of course she couldn't listen. She was blind to all the signs showing how evil Collin was. (I liked how she referred to him later on) I liked how the rape itself was handled - literally a few sentences, no details of the act whatsoever, making it an appropriate read for younger teens. The immediate action after the rape made me weep. She has such a dilemma of how to tell her mother. I was surprised at how long it took for the police to be involved, but when they were involved they helped Nancy. She found it really tough and did act up occasionally. I related so well to her, how she loses some friends because of AIDS (although she mostly isolates herself for a while, which is never a good thing to do. Yes, some do drift away because of the illness, but she makes a friend with an unexpected person, who also relates to Nancy.) Her friends hung around through thick and thin (even when she pushes them away), with El in particular surprising Nancy throughout the last few months of her life. Nancy is petrified about what happens to her body. There are incidents which make her feel ashamed and embarrassed about being different. She thinks its the end of the world. Yes, there is a little teasing but her friends stand by her. There are ways around each obstacle. She finds some respite from AIDS in her family, moving around to different places as her illness progresses.

Nancy's story truly is a brilliant example of what happens when people have a terminal illness, when people have to endure scary body changes.  Nancy tries to bury her negative side, and see a positive side in everything. This isn't always possible and it shows in her diary entries. She has a funny voice, and uses favourite words a lot - just like all teenagers do. I knew a little about AIDS before reading this book, but I didn't realise how careful HIV/AIDS sufferers have to be with personal hygiene. There is a small section at the back with facts about HIV and AIDS, as well as a question and answer session, informing the reader exactly what HIV is, how it is caught, and how to deal with it.  I will be getting my own copy of this book in the future because it's so powerful.

Final conclusion
Nancy's courage has spurred me on in life, which is what she wanted. It definitely educates the reader about AIDS.

If you like this, check out two books called Last Summer, First Love by Jennifer Baker. It is about a young teen who gets diagnosed with Lupus (there's book 1 & book 2). 


Lauren said...

That sounds like such a moving read. It's always good to find a book that gives such insight into what other people go through. Great review. :)

Nayuleska said...

Thank you Lauren. It's one I recommend for everyone.