Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope

In This Review

Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope

By Jenna Bush
HarperCollins, 2007
304 pp. $18.99

The U.S. president's 20-something daughter traveled to Latin America with UNICEF and was inspired by a badly abused, HIV-positive single mother (apparently Panamanian) whose beauty "resembled the exotic subjects in Gauguin's Tahiti paintings." Seventeen-year-old Ana has learned to talk openly and smartly about her afflictions and safe sex. Glowing with the "perfect love between a mother and child," Ana has, in Bush's opinion, broken the cycle of illness, silence, and abuse. But has she? Ana's enhanced self-esteem comes primarily from her premature motherhood, and she shows scant interest in school subjects. Most of the men in her life have been ineffectual or worse, and there is little to suggest that the adolescent is learning to build stable relationships; when the father of her child is disabled by AIDS, she unceremoniously dumps him. The one choice that might have enabled her to truly break free -- a timely abortion -- is utterly evaded. Nevertheless, the young Bush fuses missionary benevolence, empathetic feminism, and confessional psychology into a rather moving, effective call to action for readers to reach out to young, impoverished HIV/AIDS victims, whether at home or abroad. Slickly drafted and caringly illustrated, Ana's Story targets a teenage market and includes informational notes by UNICEF staff and candid questions for classroom discussion.

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