Patrick's Wish is a true story told from the perspective of a young girl whose brother had a serious illness. It is evident from page one that there was some serious hero worship going on when it came to her older brother, Patrick. The book itself has an almost scrapbook feel to it, with alternating pages of text and photographs from Patrick and Lyanne’s childhood, and it details Lyanne’s eventual discovery that her brother’s illness is terminal.
Patrick, a hemophiliac, contracted HIV from a blood transfusion, and while he and his parents kept this secret for many years, Patrick ultimately decided he needed to share his diagnosis with the rest of his family. As he moved through adolescence with relatively few symptoms, Patrick and his family became active in spreading the word about AIDS and raising money for medical research.
Patrick's Wish chronicles his journey as an active young man who eventually took the incredibly difficult step of educating his peers about HIV and AIDS in an effort to remove some of the stigma from those who suffer from the disease. When Patrick’s body finally succumbed to the effects of AIDS, Lyanne took up the torch and continued her brother’s work.
Patrick's Wish is aimed at children and does an admirable job of using the voice of a young girl to impart its message. Full color photographs help the reader to visualize Patrick and his family as any other family. The “hard science” of the disease itself is explained in a way that is understandable for children. I especially appreciated the HIV/AIDS facts on the last two pages of the book, which provide concrete information about the disease, its transmission, and its treatment.
My eight- and ten-year-old daughters both asked to read Patrick's Wish, which created the perfect opportunity to engage in a discussion about HIV and AIDS. The girls asked whether we knew anyone who was HIV positive and were interested to know whether their schools could benefit from presentations or special education on the disease. The book’s other merits notwithstanding, this gave us more than enough reason to read and recommend Patrick's Wish.