When Dogs Heal: Powerful Stories of People Living with HIV and the Dogs That Saved Them

Lerner/Zest. Mar. 2021. 152p. Tr $37.32. ISBN 9781541586734; pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781541586765.
Gr 8 Up–This book shares portraits and personal experiences of people who are HIV-positive. Each color photo of the individual and their dog is accompanied by a brief section of text. The text spotlights compelling subjects such as Amador, a Latinx man who decided to keep living because his dog Bella needed him to care for her. Amador expresses that he wants to help people in the Latinx community who struggle with the lack of support and education concerning HIV. Lynnea, a Black woman who learned of her positive status at age seven, discovered how to expect more from her relationships and leave her abusive partner by becoming the owner of a dog named Coconut. The wide range of people and stories depict themes of loneliness, addiction, shame, and isolation; each entry shows how having an animal to care for teaches someone the fundamentals of self-care and self-respect. Back matter includes a list of resources but does not include a glossary.
VERDICT A unique collection that is unflinchingly honest and infused with hope. These valuable lessons of empathy, self-care, and acceptance will inspire all readers and will be especially encouraging for young people who are living with HIV.

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