cover image Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope

Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope

Jenna Bush, , photos by Mia Baxter. . HarperCollins, $18.99 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-06-137908-6

As an intern with UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean, Bush, the daughter of the president, was assigned to document the lives of poor children; in a preface, she writes about how impressed she was to hear a 17-year-old single mother resolutely announce, in a group for people with HIV/AIDS, “We are not dying with AIDS; we are living with it.” For more than six moths, Bush met with the mother, Ana, and later interviewed others, inspired by Ana's resilience. Here, in what she terms narrative nonfiction, she creates “a mosaic of [Ana's] life, using words instead of shards of broken tile to create an image of her past and a framework for her future.” Short segments reveal Ana's scarred childhood. Ana is orphaned, told never to reveal her HIV status lest she be ostracized, sexually abused by her grandmother's boyfriend, beaten and sent to reform school. Not until she lands in a group home for people with HIV/AIDS do things begin to look up, and then only temporarily: Ana falls in love with a boy resident, gets pregnant the one and only time they don't use a condom, and the boy grows too sick to be of much help (the thought of terminating the pregnancy never comes up). Despite unexceptional, sometimes awkward writing (“The passion, the attraction, the butterflies had flown away”), Bush's compassion for her subject comes through clearly. Even (and maybe especially) when Ana behaves imperfectly or questionably, Bush focuses on Ana's pain and ability to transcend it, helping readers to avoid judging Ana and to feel strong empathy. Back matter includes information on HIV/AIDS and abuse, notes on ways to help others and a discussion guide; the final art, which includes color photos, was not seen by PW . A portion of the proceeds will benefit the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)