It Happened to Nancy

It Happened to Nancy

4.5 291
by Beatrice Sparks

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The editor of the classic GO ASK ALICE has compiled the poignant journals of a 14-year-old date-rape victim who contracted AIDS and died.See more details below


The editor of the classic GO ASK ALICE has compiled the poignant journals of a 14-year-old date-rape victim who contracted AIDS and died.

Editorial Reviews

Doctor B
I Love Nancy, I love her still, and hope you will not only love Nancy but appreciate her decision to make her most private thoughts and experiences public, in the hope of helping you better understand AIDS.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Presented as a diary edited by the woman who prepared Go Ask Alice for publication, this book is soberly dedicated ``to every kid who thinks AIDS can't happen to him or her'' and includes an earnest foreword by one of Nancy's doctors (``I worry about all the beautiful, innocent young Nancys''). The story itself, however, begins on a nearly euphoric note: Nancy, 14, is caught up in her first romance. Breathless exuberance turns to horror, anger and despair after her gentle-seeming boyfriend plies her with spiked wine coolers and rapes her in her own mother's bed. A few months later, blood tests indicate that Nancy is HIV-positive. Nancy succumbs relatively quickly to full-blown AIDS, thus giving readers a rapid-paced and horrific account of the disease's progress. Though the wrenchingly optimistic diarist devotes little space in her journal to the specific details of the various opportunistic infections she suffers, her description of a rectal ulcer leaves a lasting impression. The thought-provoking narrative ends with Nancy's death and is followed by an informative series of questions and answers about rape and AIDS. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-A book based on the diary of a real teenager. Nancy, 14, is ``a good little Catholic'' girl, living in South Carolina. She has divorced parents who both love her, loyal friends, and a bright future. At a country western concert, she meets Collin, who presents himself as a lonely, orphaned college freshman. Naive Nancy is swept off her feet. Then he rapes her and disappears from her life. With her mother's support, she recovers from the assault and begins to enjoy her life again. She develops a romantic interest in Lew, who is serious and caring. Then she becomes ill; after a period of denial, she sees her family doctor. She is infected with the HIV virus. Until very late in her illness, she does not tell her friends her diagnosis. Despite ever frequent hospitalizations, Nancy never gives up hope. She graphically records the breakdown of her immune system and the resulting pain and loss of control. In a final burst of determination, Nancy sees through a collaboration that will result in the publication of her diary. This book is her legacy to other teens, left to them on her death at the age of 16. Readers will feel her joy, shock, and pain, and a personal sorrow at the loss of such an appealing young person. The narrative is followed by a question-and-answer chapter on HIV and AIDS. Elaine Landau's We Have AIDS (Watts, 1990) consists of interviews with stricken teens, as well as factual material. In contrast to the mostly private anguish of Nancy and her family, Ryan White and Ann M. Cunningham's Ryan White (Dial, 1991) recounts the very public tragedy of another heroic teen.-Libby K. White, Schenectady County Public Library, NY
Frances Bradburn
Fourteen-year-old Nancy, an asthmatic, meets 18-year-old Collin, a gentle, caring young man who appears to be the answer to her dreams--until he rapes her, leaving her HIV-infected. In spite of her rapid decline, explained in a note at the beginning of the book, as the result of her weakened immune system, Nancy leads a full, poignantly happy life because of the loving support of both friends and family "It Happened to Nancy" follows the YA-enticing diary format seen years ago in "Go Ask Alice", which also was edited by Sparks. And the same reservations remain. Is this really a teen's diary, or is it Sparks' attempt to convey the reality of adolescent susceptibility to HIV/AIDS in a format that will impact YA readers? Does the occasional place lapse (the Arizona time zone is earlier than South Carolina's) reflect editing sloppiness while Sparks was changing both names and places for privacy, or a fiction writer's lack of focus? There is no way of knowing. Although this is frustrating for adults who monitor the children's/YA field, it's doubtful that it will make much difference to the book's intended audience. YAs will devour this book just as they did its predecessor. Nancy's initial "love" relationship with Collin, her subsequent date rape, and the terror of her diagnosis will be real to teenagers, especially girls. And Nancy's support network is truly educational. Adolescents crave the kind of friends who stand behind Nancy throughout her ordeal (she even has a boyfriend!), as well as the loving relationship she has with both her parents, divorced but determined to work together during this tragedy Sparks provides additional educational information at the end of the book, "Questions Nancy Wanted Answered About Rape and AIDS," a good thing, since Nancy asked her diary several questions without providing their answers in the body of the text. Parts of the book are graphic: Nancy worries about blood from her menstrual cycles, how to dispose of her tampons, and how to deal with her rectal ulcers, a common manifestation of AIDS. And, of course, she dies--the ultimate AIDS inevitability--unlike what happens in so many other books about teens and AIDS, both fiction and nonfiction. She progresses from happy-go-lucky junior-high-school student to AIDS patient to death in a spiral that will hold YAs' attention, without the didacticism of so many message-inherent titles. In spite of its flaws, Nancy's diary should be on our shelves.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
900L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Saturday, April 14

8:01 A.M.

I can't believe it. Tonight's the night I've beenwaiting for forever. At least it seems like foreversince February 10, when El's Aunt Pauline picked upthe tickets. Imagine me going to a concert. A GarthBrooks concert! A few months ago El and Red andDorie and I whined and nagged and groaned andmoaned because we weren't allowed to go to the U2concert. Now we're going to see Garth! Garth? Iheard on television that he's and he jumps off a high platform, grabs a rope and swings high out over the audience, with strobe lights flashing in all different colors and everything looking sort of smoky. Plus all sorts of other wild, woolly and wacky stuff. It's going to be almost like going to a real rock concert, which, boo-hoo, none of our mothers will allow us to attend.

6:45 P.M.

Oh chips, isn't it strange how slowly time goes by when you want it to go fast and bow fast it goes when YOU want it to go slow? Anyway ... for now ... life is great! ... it's good! ... it's wonderful! ... it's fun! ... it's fab! ... it's sunshiny inside!—and why don't they come? Why, why, WHY? WHY don't they huffy up and pick me up? I've tried on everything in my closet, plus every combination of everything in my closet, and I've redone my hair 97 1/2 times.

Oops, there's the doorbell. My chariot and my friends have arrived. I, Cinderella, am off to the ball.

2 A.M.

It's 2 A.M., and I can't sleep. I don't think I'll ever sleep again. I can't believe what happened tonight. It was like a movie, only better and louder and more exciting than any movie could ever be! Red and El and Dorie and I walkinginto the concert auditorium trying to look like we weren't excited! So excited that we could hardly keep from jumping up and down and squealing!! We were also pretending Aunt Pauline wasn't with us. And grown-uply endeavoring not to giggle-but that was impossible! There was so much excitement in the air that you couldn't help feel it. I mean REALLY feel it, like it was crunchy fall leaves or soft cloth or something ... maybe solid but squishy or gauzy and wispy and changing, ever changing, like a planet or galaxy weaving through space.

When the strobe lights turned on, they flashed absolutely through my body. We were sitting next to a big speaker, and the music pierced every molecule in me. It was mag! Really magnif! I was part of it, and it was part of me, a new dimension!

Then, uggggg, about halfway through the concert a couple of rednecks came in and tried to sit in front of us. They said those were their seats. The. people sitting there said they weren't. A scuffle started. Almost immediately cops appeared from nowhere and literally surrounded the area. Aunt Pauline tried to herd El and Red and Dorie and me away from the confusion, but, wouldn't you know it, I fell down. For a moment I was panic-stricken because people were almost walking on me, and someone grabbed my purse. Then I didn't even care about that. I just wanted to crawl out of there alive. When I finally got out of the line of fire, I tried to get the attention of a policeman to tell him about my purse, but they were either trying to get people to sit down as they dragged the two nutsos away, or they were trying to get back to their own posts.

Amazingly, most of the auditorium wasn't even aware that there was a problem-they kept it so isolated. I leaned against a post, trying to become invisible, because I had started to have an asthma attack. I was so terrorized I couldn't breathe, and I was alone! More alone in those thousands of people than I had ever been in my life. I was hyperventilating and about to pass out, and no one seemed to care. They didn't want me, or anything else, for that matter, to interfere with their wild and woolly enjoyment.

Just as I was beginning to feel the blackness dragging me completely under, I sensed a soft hand on my shoulder and a gentle voice whispering in my ear, "Relax, relax. I'll get you out into the center hall, where you can sit down and get some air ... shh ... relax ... relax. You'll be all right.... I'll take care of you.

He put his arm around my waist, and we walked down, down, down, down the endless rows of stairs. It hadn't seemed like there were nearly as many when we came up.

By the time we got out into the foyer, I felt better. My hysterical terror was being replaced by a calm peace. The guy said he was Collin Eagle. He sat me on a bench and brought me a Coke, then began softly rubbing my back and quietly telling me to "relax ... relax" ... and I did! How could I not with his soft voice and his positive presence?

We moved over by the fountain, and it was nice. The music from the concert drifted out to us, and the dripping and the splashing of the water seemed to take over the melody line.

Collin and I talked like we had known each other forever, and I, who have always felt uneasy with boys, felt completely comfortable and comforted.

How could I have felt any other way? He had saved me.

We talked for a long time, waiting for Aunt Pauline to come down. Collin said she eventually had to come into the main hall looking for me.

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