My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: October 29th, 2019
Publisher: Knopf BFYR
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Romance, Health, Family, LGBTQIA+. Friendship, High School, Theater
I knew this was going to be an important and memorable story from the very first chapter. This was my first time reading about an HIV positive character and their struggles so I was paying very close attention to everything that was being said about the virus and how it affected Simone’s daily life. I did feel overwhelmed in the beginning because the author does not wait long to explain Simone’s situation to us and so it feels as though we are info-dumped. At the same time, I am really glad I know more about HIV and the U=U rule (undetectable = untransmittable) today. This book made me realize my own ignorance and corrected it.
It tells the story of Simone, an HIV positive girl who is faced with a dilemma: tell the boy she is crushing on about her condition and risk being rejected and having the whole school find out about her virus or give in to her blackmailer who wants her to leave Miles alone. I completely related to Simone because I think we all have a little something we don’t want other people to know but not telling them can sometimes equal keeping them at a distance so it’s not easy either way. I also think the author did a magnificent job of making us feel sympathetic towards Simone without pitying her. She’s a strong girl and the fact that she is HIV positive does not make her any less real and able than someone else.
This is a really great debut novel. Not perfect, seeing that it feels as though we are thrown into a story that started a while ago, but everyone in this story deserves getting to know, especially Simone and her family and friends. Oh and Miles, of course.
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