cover image Weeding Out the Tears: A Mother's Story of Love, Loss and Renewal

Weeding Out the Tears: A Mother's Story of Love, Loss and Renewal

Jeanne White. Avon Books, $22 (225pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97328-6

White was a single mother and factory worker in Kokomo, Ind., when her 13-year-old son, Ryan, was diagnosed with AIDS. A hemophiliac, the boy had contracted the disease from Factor VIII, a clotting agent he was given regularly and that came from the blood of unknown donors. Ryan's diagnosis--the first publicized case of a child with AIDS--rocked the little community of Kokomo and, ultimately, the whole country. A year-long court battle ended with Ryan being allowed to attend school, but that didn't stop the harassment, discrimination and death threats to which he, his family and their friends were subjected. Through it all, White had Ryan and his healthy sister (a nationally ranked roller skater) to care for, bills to pay and quickly dwindling resources. With help from a variety of what White calls ""guardian angels""--including Phil Donahue, Elton John, Michael Jackson and Greg Louganis--she managed to stay afloat and move her children to a more accepting community. After Ryan's death, White, who was terrified of public speaking, gradually began accepting invitations to speak about AIDS, to educate both the public and powerful government officials. As a result, the Ryan White CARE Act was passed and the Ryan White Foundation was formed. White now spends all her time raising money, educating people and visiting AIDS patients around the country. This straightforward, smoothly written memoir (Dworkin was an editor at Ms. magazine) tells how one woman's process of tremendous growth led her to find meaning and purpose in the suffering she and her family endured. Photos not seen by PW. 40,000 first printing; author tour. (Apr.)