Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly. Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too. Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…
This book has been on my list for a long time. One of my friends, Cody, raves about it every chance he gets. I was interested before I knew his opinion, it sounded interesting, but I’d heard SO MANY people absolutely raving about this book. So, I knew I had to give it a shot sooner rather than later.
Everybody raving about this book was absolutely correct; this book is incredible. It’s on the shorter side, but it packs so much into it.
I’m starting with the writing style because that was one of the things I loved most about this book. It was so unique. I want to describe it well, but it’s so hard to describe the exact feeling that it evoked in me. It felt like it could help me float. It felt like a teen wrote it, and a teen did. It felt like a book about a teen, written by a teen. It felt so comforting, even when talking about subjects that aren’t comforting. It worked SO WELL with this book. I can’t give it enough praise.
I also really, really loved how sex positive this book was. Not sex positive as in sex is had, but as in it’s talked about. There are frank conversations about sex and ways to have safe sex. It’s especially important for Simone, since she is positive for HIV. Sure, conversations about sex is awkward and I loved that the book doesn’t shy away from that. But it also pushes past that discomfort because it’s normal for teens to want to have sex and to even crave sex. I think it’s awesome that a YA book would portray that.
I also loved the emotion this book has. It’s sad and it’s hopeful and it’s painful and it’s awkward and it’s weird and it’s happy. I felt like everything about this book is done with so much emotion.
Simone was such a great character. I truly loved all the characters. They had such great friendships, even if they had their hardships. And the romantic relationship, it felt authentic and had so much sweetness.
Simone’s queerness was one of the things I loved most about this book, because I’ve had feelings that were so similar to hers. She’s not sure she can call herself queer, she’s trying to figure out if she actually is queer, and sometimes it just feels like mush in her brain. And gosh, I get that so much.
There’s conversations about racism and HIV and the struggles that come with both of them. I can’t comment on them, other than to say that they’re there.
Really, this book feels simple, even if it doesn’t deal with simple things. But it holds so much under the comfort of the writing style. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel like the author is going to go on and do huge, amazing things. It makes you feel like this book is going to go on and do huge, amazing things. I know my words don’t really do it justice, but this book truly is special and amazing.
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