Five million more people contracted HIV last year alone. We've all seen the statistics, and they numb us; on some level our minds shut down to a catastrophe of this scope. As with other such immense human tragedies in the past, it can take the story of one special child's life to make us open our minds and our hearts.
While the majority of all AIDS cases occur in Africa, a South African boy named Nkosi Johnson did not become "an icon of the struggle for life", in Nelson Mandela's words, because he was representative but because he was so very remarkable. Everyone who met Nkosi Johnson was struck by his blinding life force, his powerful intelligence and drive, his determination to make something of his short life. By the time of his death, the work he had done in his 11 years on earth was such that The New York Times ran his obituary on the front page, as did many other papers, and tributes appeared on the evening news broadcasts of every major network.
Nkosi Johnson did not live to tell his own story, but one writer whose life he changed has taken up the work of telling it for him. In the hands of Jim Wooten, We Are All the Same is a powerful testament to the strength of the human spirit, even as it bears witness to the scope of the tragedy that is unfolding in Africa and around the world. Written with the brevity and power of a parable, We Are All the Same is a book that is meant to be read by all of us, of all ages and walks of life. Its beginning and ending are terribly sad, but in the middle is the extraordinarily inspiring story of a very unlucky little boy who said, "Never mind. I'm going to make my life matter." And he did.
©2004 Jim Wooten; (P)2004 Tantor Media, Inc.
"This powerful account puts a human face on a catastrophic epidemic that grows worse daily." (Publishers Weekly)
"Clear dramatic narrative that personalizes the apartheid politics as well as the present devastating statistics and the struggle against prejudice." (Booklist)
This is one of those books you will not want to "put down." It tells how 11-year old Nkosi Johnson and his unofficially adoptive mother Gail struggle in the fight against AIDS, both within himself and across South Africa. Because of Gail's determination to help the poor victims of HIV/AIDS, she was able to open Nkosi's Haven, originally a single shelter for HIV-positive women and children that continues expanding and accommodating more each day. This book really opened my eyes about the extreme impact of AIDS on South Africa and other sub-Saharan countries and how education and acceptance goes a long way. The epidemic would be worse still in South Africa if Nkosi and Gail had not done more than their share in making others aware.
I looked for this book after hearing an interview with the author on radio. The interview introduced the wonderful child this book is supposed to be about. He is in there if you can listen long enough for his part to emerge. I appreciate the author's insight into the AIDS epidemic but I wanted to hear the child’s story and insights particularly. An abridged work might be less tedious. The narrator is excellent.
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