Wednesday, December 01, 2010



Darletha reviews THE NAKED TRUTH: YOUNG, BEAUTIFUL, AND (HIV) POSITIVE by Marvelyn Brown (Amistad, 2008)

HIV is a serious topic most people wouldn’t want to read about. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have chosen this book if the cover didn't catch my attention on the shelf. When I picked up The Naked Truth, I noticed the profile of a pretty African American lady on the front cover. Another draw was from the book's description--the author was a Tennessee native! I knew I was in for a story that would hit very close to home.

Marvelyn Brown begins her story as a carefree high school athlete living in Nashville. The self-professed tomboy deals with her share of teen issues: fights with her mother, conflicts with female classmates, and the hunt for a boyfriend. After high school she meets a handsome man she only identifies as Prince Charming. He has a good job, suave personality, and a nice apartment--basically the kind of guy every single lady hopes to meet. Marvelyn falls in love with a seemingly perfect man, until Prince Charming infects her with the HIV virus.

Marvelyn becomes stigmatized in town as the "girl with HIV." She tries to maintain a normal life as a college student, but the whispers and dirty looks become unbearable. She could have easily disappeared into a quiet, private life; instead, she uses her youth and lively personality as an advocate for HIV awareness.

Marvelyn presents her story in an unpretentious way. Marvelyn's conversational voice makes you feel like you're reading her diary, sprinkled with humor and sadness. Photos of Marvelyn, her family, and friends connect real faces to her recollections. The writing is so honest you can’t help but think of other young women in your life—like a sister or a best friend-- and how their lives would change if they were diagnosed with HIV or AIDS.

Just in time for World AIDS Day, December 1st, I wanted to share a great book about a courageous young woman who speaks her truth. This is a book that should never collect dust on the shelves. It is a great discussion choice for adults and teens.

Darletha, South Branch

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