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We Are All the Same: A Story of a Boy's Courage and a Mother's Love Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 243 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (October 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143035991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143035992
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author, an award-winning senior correspondent for ABC News, has written an extraordinarily moving account of a courageous South African boy's battle with AIDS that is also a scathing indictment of South African leaders who have failed to confront the AIDS epidemic in their country. Nkosi, born in 1989 in the former Zululand, was infected by his poverty-stricken mother, Daphne. As Wooten recounts, Daphne moved heaven and earth to insure that her son would be provided for after her own death and agreed to his adoption, at age three, by Gail Johnson, a white South African, who had met Nkosi at a hospice. A hero in her own right, Johnson nourished Nkosi's strong spirit, which gave out only when he died at the age of 12. Before then, Johnson and Nkosi traveled internationally to gain support for Nkosi's Haven, a home for women and children with AIDS in South Africa. Looking at the larger picture, Wooten points out that Nelson Mandela refused to deal with the AIDS crisis because he was embarrassed to speak publicly about sex (a position he later said he regretted). Mandela's successor, Thabo Mkebi, has also hampered attempts to get antiretroviral drugs to AIDS victims, absurdly denying that the virus HIV exists. According to Wooten, 20% of South African girls are currently infected with HIV and 7,000 infants die of AIDS each month. This powerful account puts a human face on a catastrophic epidemic that grows worse daily.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In 1989, the year that Mandela was released from prison, a Zulu baby named Nkosi was born HIV-positive to a teen single mother dying of AIDS. Wooten, ABC News senior correspondent, tells Nkosi's family story of hope and heartbreak in a clear dramatic narrative that personalizes the apartheid politics as well as the present devastating statistics and the struggle against prejudice. At age 2, the sick little boy was taken in by a loving white family, and with the support of his activist foster mother, Gail, he became a famous public figure in the battle against discrimination. He won the legal right to attend school. At 11, shortly before he died, he gave an electrifying speech to an international audience. Wooten gets close to the dying child and his white family, and he writes passionately about Gail's fight and about President Mbeki's absurd denial that has enraged the health profession. Most haunting is the breakup of black family life stretching back across generations, the desperation of the teen who gets AIDS and gives it to her son. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Mr. Wooten has crafted a story of extraordinary elegance and simplicity.
Alexandra Scott
I purchased three more copies and sent them to friends knowing they would enjoy this book as I did.
Barbara A. Wurst
I really enjoyed reading the book and I strongly recommend it for teenagers.
Sewon Hwang

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I read this poignant book, I wondered as to how some people seem to get it-- in this instance Gail Johnson who crossed class and race lines to care for Nkosi Johnson, the young Zulu boy who died at the age of 12 with AIDS-- and others either cannot or do not want to get it-- here I refer to President Mbeki of South Africa, Mandella's sucessor, who believes that an "omnipotent apparatus" is using AIDS as an instrument of genocide against black Africans. These instruments are pharmaceutical companies, scientists, physicians, medical researchers and Western goverments.

The author of this book, Jim Wooten of ABC News, says that he is writing "about the relationship between a black child who never grew up and a white woman who never gave up. It has neither a happy ending nor even a promising beginning, for the child had no choice and no chance, and the woman knew all along what she was up against." Like the current U. S. deficit, the numbers of AIDS cases in Africa, or anywhere else for that matter, have very little impact on us. They are so large and impersonal. But the story of the courageous young Nkosi puts a face on the pandemic and in a small way brings it home to all of us. As the youngster said so eloquently: "We are all the same."

Both Nkosi and his adopted mother-- she actually did not adopt him legally and, according to Wooten, made every effort to see that he maintained a relationship with his birth family-- were heroes of the first order. (I kept wishing as I read this book in one setting that Wooten had provided the reader with a photograph of Ms. Johnson. I wanted to put a face on Nkosi's adopted "angel" mother.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alexandra Scott on December 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Wooten has crafted a story of extraordinary elegance and simplicity. I can only imagine what a formidable task it was for him to attempt to convey the strength, purity and valour of this one fragile, brave boy in a sea of pain and despair. One is left with both a sense of unspeakable grief at the cruelty of a cold and uncaring world and the light of hope; if one small child and one determined woman can move the mountains of ignorance then there may redemption for us all. I challenge anyone to read this book and not be profoundly altered.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on January 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
By the late 1980s AIDS had become an epidemic. The dreaded disease was particularly devastating to black South Africans, segregated by race, poverty and cruel social stigma. Those afflicted did not know the name of this illness; they called it "the thin disease." They knew only that to contract it was to receive a death sentence.

Veteran news correspondent Jim Wooten had spent much time reporting war, strife and upheaval on the African continent. It is through Jim's eyes, ears and soul that Nkosi Johnson's story is revealed. In February 1989 a tiny, sickly baby boy was born to Daphne, a single teenager living in poverty in a remote village with no name in what had once been Zululand. Daphne contracted AIDS during this second pregnancy, so at birth her baby was already destined to suffer.

While more developed parts of the world were setting up AIDS care centers, shelters and hospices, South Africa remained, medically speaking, in the Stone Age. Public officials refused to deal with the grave situation. President Thabo Mbeki stonewalled efforts to provide information about the disease and any possible treatment for it. In fact, Mbeki went so far as to say that AIDS medications were poison.

Daphne was frightened because her tiny baby was constantly ill and could not gain weight. She crossed social and cultural barriers just to take Nkosi to a clinic in the white part of town where a kindly doctor gave her the dreaded news that both she and Nkosi were afflicted. Daphne was determined to place her son someplace where he would be taken care of when she became too ill to look after him.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By G. Reid on January 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a moving story about AIDS. In some areas of southern Africa the life expectancy has been cut in half. The hero of this book is a little boy born in South Africa. His growth was stunted by pediatric AIDS. He lived for 12 1/2 years before he passed away. The author met this little boy who had a wonderful sense of humor. The theme of his life is that he was a "normal" boy. He had a huge infectious smile that everyone loved. This little boy fought for the right to go to school and won that right for himself and others.

In Africa AIDS is a heterosexual disease and a childrens disease. This little boy, Nkosi, fought for the rights of all persons with AIDS. Nkosi had tremendous courage and his mantra was to do all he could in the time he had. He was even the keynote speaker at a major AIDS conference in South Africa. He spoke in front of over 20,000 people at this conference.

Nkosi had a wisdom beyond his years. He was a very smart little boy. He had a sense of himself and was sophisticated far beyond his years. He was always willing to talk about persons with AIDS as he believed it was a cause far bigger than just himself.

Nkosi had a classmate in school who became his best buddy. Nkosi's teacher was just marvelous and treated Nkosi without a stigma. Living to 12 1/2 years Nkosi was one of the longest living pediatric aids babies in South Africa. As you read this wonderful book you will learn all about a this boy's courage and his mother's great love for him.
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