CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 40. . . .June 18, 2010
Patrick’s Wish is a personal account of a medical tragedy related by the authors, a teacher and a writer, in the voice of a girl whose brother suffered from hemophilia as a child in the 70’s and 80’s. The frequent transfusions required by his condition resulted in Patrick’s contracting HIV, which eventually became AIDS.
Colour photos, presented in the style of a family album, take readers from Patrick as a bright-eyed preschooler, with a bruise around one eye, to him as a wheelchair-bound adolescent. Everyday events depicted are, at first, things like making snow angels and playing the piano. Later, they are visits to the hospital and fundraising walkathons.
The story is told in the first person, and the naïve narrative style allows young readers to gain understanding of the subject by hearing about how Patrick’s sister felt at different stages of this family journey. The revelation of Patrick’s illness, coming after several pages of memories of early childhood, is wrenching:
Patrick dies at 23, but his death is referred to obliquely and in terms of his spirit and his wish to let people know about HIV/AIDS prevention.
End matter offers information to children about the causes and symptoms of HIV/AIDS, headed “Some things Patrick would want you to know about HIV and AIDS”. The concluding sentence is, “And most of all, Patrick would want you to remember his wish: NO MORE HIV/AIDS.”
Patrick lived before the current stringent blood testing became required in hospitals and clinics. Although HIV/AIDS is hardly eradicated, we can hope that fewer stand a chance of contracting it the way that Patrick did. Recommended for school and public library collections.
Ellen Heaney is Head of Children’s Services at the New Westminster Public Library, New Westminster, BC.
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