Pedro, being Pedro Zamora. Me, being Judd Winick. Both of whom appeared on MTV's The Real World: San Francisco. I have to admit, I've never watched a ton of MTV. (Factoid which proclaims my ancientness: MTV didn't even exist until I was a senior in high school.) And I never watched much more than a very occasional episode of The Real World. Until that year, 1994. I still by no means watched every episode, but something about that year drew me in far more than any other season. That something was Pedro. I honestly cannot imagine that anyone who watched didn't fall in love with Pedro. Pedro Zamora was special.
And this book is special. It's a story of friendship. Of courage. Of incredible giving. In graphic novel form, Judd Winick brings Pedro back to life and shares with readers the undeniable gift he was to this world. The book begins with chapters about Judd's and about Pedro's childhoods...two childhood's that could not have been much different. Judd was born and raised in a middle-class family on Long Island, New York. Pedro was born in Cuba. At the age of eight, his family boarded a boat and came to the U.S. Well, part of his family did...at the last minute, passage was denied to his five oldest siblings. And this was not the only tragedy of his young life. But you can read about it all yourself, and I strongly recommend you do read this book!
The rest of the book focuses on their lives once they arrive at the house in San Francisco, where they will spend six months getting to know one another, and growing to love one another in a powerful and beautiful friendship. I love so much that Judd didn't paint himself out to be some sort of "perfect" guy without fears and doubts. I appreciated his honesty about the fact that he was nervous and unsure when he found his roommate was HIV positive. In his own words:
Of course I'd be fine. I'm liberal boy and had decided that I was okay with this. Problem? Not me. I'm okay with this.
I'm informed. I subscribe to both Rolling Stone and Spin. I've seen An Early Frost and Philadelphia. The very special episodes of Thirtysomething.
Well, I wasn't okay. In truth, I was terribly uninformed; but no AIDS hotline or doctor could begin to tell me what I was going to learn in the next six months.
Pedro learned he was HIV positive at age 17. He died at age 22. How many lives he saved in between those two events, I can't say. But I'm guessing it was many. Because after the initial shock and denial, Pedro spent his time educating people. And that is what led him to apply to be on The Real World in the first place...what a better way to reach millions of people all at once. And he did reach millions. He touched the lives of countless people. And of course he touched the life of Judd Winick and his other housemates in a very profound way. This is that story. It's no surprise that it's heartbreaking. But ultimately, it's a book brimming with love.
I have a point of blame (a.k.a. thanks) to award for this one. Part of our health education this school year is going to focus on the human stories of HIV/AIDS, and I had this book on a list of possible reads. After reading Amanda's review, I knew this one would definitely be one of the books we would end up reading.
I do have other points to pass out as well. I really need to get on that. As well as trying to catch up on my blog reading. I'm sooooooo far behind. :( Since we're heading out on vacation in a week, I've been trying to get a bazillion things done. Especially for school...it seems like the new school year is barreling down upon me at tremendous speed.
But I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about our trip!!!! Not only are we going to get to see Jean again (giddyness abounds!) and finally meet her guys...not only are we going to get to spend a couple days with some wonderful friends that we haven't seen in a few years...but guess what...I get to actually meet, in person, two of the most amazing bloggers, two of the most amazing people period, I've ever had the privilege of calling "friend." We're heading to New Orleans...and I'm sure you all can guess who's going to be our own personal tour guide! Of course, we'll be hanging out with Chris!!! At least until he gets sick of us. ;) And as if that isn't already the treat of a lifetime, I then get to meet Renay!!! I'm so hoping some of her sheer awesomeness will rub off on me! You know, I'm somewhat surprised I'm managing to get anything done around here, because I am so overwhelmingly excited about this trip I can hardly think about anything else! Ana, you know what could make this trip even better...if you flew over here and went with us!!! We have room in the car...I'm so not kidding!!! And Eva, are you sure you and your mom can't make it?!! Of course, I really do understand, but man, did I have my hopes up!!!
Okay, before I hurt anyone with the overuse of exclamation points (though certainly you can see the necessity of such punctuation), I suppose I'd better sign off here. Hope you all are having a fantabulous weekend!