Date Completed: 12/6/2016
This is the tale of Marvelyn Brown, a young woman who discovers she has HIV at the age of 19. The story takes us through her young life as a child and basketball star through to when she drops out of college and pursues a temporary career in sales until her status as HIV positive is revealed during a stay at the hospital. This is the tale of a beautiful, strong woman who makes a name and a life for herself while living with this disease.
Brown writes her story masterfully, following the typical memoir trajectory of following her story from childhood through to where she stands now. Stylistically, this is not the most original body of work, but the story stands for itself and Brown’s bravery and perseverance is inspiring and enlightening. I’m really glad she shared her story about her childhood, plenty of details pre-diagnosis really helped me as a reader understand how her diagnosis impacted her.
Brown also shared balanced insights about herself and about HIV positive status/people living with HIV. The fact that she knew next to nothing about HIV before being diagnosed and now raises awareness by speaking publicly and running shows on TV is very inspiring. It’s terrible that she now has to live with the diagnosis, but she rarely felt sorry for herself and rather shares her story with her strong and unique voice to help others. However, she does not glaze over her own share of stress and struggles both those that are directly affected by her status and those that may not be connected to HIV at all. She is very up-front about the struggles in her life, sharing her story in a way that I believe she hopes will help other people find their own peace.
She seems to have a relationship with God that ebbs and flows, and she is very open with that relationship and how that impacts her other relationships as well. However, the Christian theme is not at the fore-front of her memoir, as the fore-front is truly about raising awareness of HIV and taking care of yourself however you need to for the good of yourself and others around you.
The only negative thing I have to say about Brown’s memoir is that at times her writing was rather simplistic and bland. However, that does not prevent her message from shining through and helps to make her story more accessible to everyone. A quick read, I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to learn something new and her about this inspiring young woman’s life.
Marvelyn Brown is a public speaker and activist for and about HIV/AIDS/people with HIV. She founded her own company in 2007 to further promote awareness and understanding for people living with HIV. You can find out more about her by reading this memoir or checking out her website.