In language most hackneyed, a mother relates her daughter’s struggle to survive pediatric HIV/AIDS and her emergence as a spokesperson for AIDS awareness.
Is there a cliché in the English language that does not appear here? People go “the extra mile,” “stay on top of everything” (or find things “spinning out of control”); they have “two strikes against them” as they find the way “out of the woods,” only to learn that something is “a double-edged sword” and that there are “no simple answers or quick fixes.” And then this whopper: “Being cooped up together 24/7 for weeks on end was no picnic.” The slothful prose, fashioned by Romanowski (who has ghosted books with Annette Funicello and psychic George Anderson, 1994 and 1991, respectively), diminishes immeasurably the effect of a most inspiring story. In 1984, Patricia Broadbent and her husband adopted Hydeia as an infant and learned in her fourth year that her many medical problems and lack of appetite were due to one thing: the HIV virus she had inherited from her birth mother, a drug addict who had surrendered Hydeia shortly after delivery. This alarming intelligence animated rather than depressed the Broadbents. They made themselves experts on the infection, battled ignorance and fear wherever they found it (from nursery schools to physicians’ offices), and became fierce advocates for their daughter—and for others suffering from the infection, especially children. The National Institutes of Health accepted Hydeia in one of their experimental treatment programs, and the Broadbents began their long, stressful, expensive, but ultimately rewarding journey. Hydeia herself became an articulate AIDS activist, met an assortment of celebrities who contributed energy and/or money to her cause and appeared on countless talk shows—and even on the podium at the GOP National Convention (1996). She contributes a few pages here, as well.
Extraordinary people with extraordinary experiences—all expressed in leaden prose that drags to earth a story that should soar.