Sarah's Song This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Sarah's Song is the account of a young married woman's struggle with HIV and eventually AIDS. In this casual and open, yet deep and poetic set of writings, Janice A. Burns reveals her thoughts, starting with her HIV diagnosis in 1987 to her widowed, symptomatic (yet optimistic) state in 1995.

Using a mild sort of frankness, combined with emotional thought, Burns lays out her experiences adjusting to the disease, disclosure, and her relationship with her husband, the transmitter of the disease. In her journals, Burns not only speaks of the disease, but of her whole life. From this, the reader sees a full person, and not just a caricature of an AIDS patient. Recollecting experiences and traumas from childhood, Burns reveals herself to be a strong woman, yet she does not hide her fear or emotions. A history of her life and her prior experiences with her husband contrast with her present life, and serve as personal retrospection.

Her inability to have children, as a result of her (and her husband's) condition, is a frequent topic for Burns, which blazes in her soul. In college, she feared that she was pregnant and decided to abort. Though she was not pregnant, she felt as if that baby had lived and died. She named her "Sarah." After her marriage to Bill, she planned on having children, which became her dream. After contracting AIDS, she writes:

"I dreamed for years about my unconceived and unaborted child; I named her Sarah. I dreamed she was a brown earthworm I held gently in my mouth, who trusted me to protect her. Instead I swallowed her whole like a piece of chewed gum." Burn's passion for her lost child lead to a poem in the book, and the title.

Burns' husband contracted HIV through a relationship in college and unknowingly transmitted it to his wife. Janice struggles in these memoirs with conflicting emotions. At times she has enough anger to punch him; and at others she wants him to feel free of guilt so they can be close.

Her motivation for writing this book was to spread the message that AIDS does not discriminate. Mrs. Burns also gives speeches to teenagers as a way of educating society.

In this ever-changing and constantly-evolving disease, Janice A. Bums and her husband are just two in millions of humans affected and infected. But from this small case, two noble things reveal themselves: the power of love and the courage to overcome. Mrs. Burns will never have children. Her song, however, will guide many


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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