Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2021) Nominees Round Up, April 14 Edition

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
Knopf Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: October 29th, 2019
ISBN: 9781984829962

After a traumatic experience with bullying at her Catholic high school, 17-year-old Simone is starting fresh at a public school. This time, she resolves not to tell anyone her biggest secret: she was born HIV-positive. As her crush on popular, charming lacrosse player Miles evolves into a relationship, Simone struggles with her desire to have (safe) sex and her fears about disclosing her status to Miles. But before she can figure out how to tell him or her new friends the truth, an anonymous note in her locker gives her until Thanksgiving to dump Miles—or risk the blackmailer disclosing her status to the entire school.

Full Disclosure explores the complexity of navigating contemporary life as an HIV-positive teen of color, a topic rarely discussed in YA fiction. Teens will appreciate the nuanced depictions of intersectional identities (Simone is black, bisexual, HIV-positive, and adopted, and her family members and friends are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation), the intimate friendships, and the sweet romance. Simone’s struggle to be seen for who she is and her fears of being harassed or shunned are easy to empathize with, and each time Simone discloses her HIV status feels like a mini-mystery that will keep readers turning pages to find out how others will react. Accurate, detailed information about HIV transmission, treatment, and stigma is woven into the narrative.

Fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda or Jack of Hearts and Other Parts will find a lot of similarities here, including the hook (anonymous blackmailer threatens to expose the protagonist’s secret), strong messages of sex-positivity, and a young, conversational voice. It will also appeal to readers who enjoyed the sweet, sex-positive romance in The Revolution of Birdie Randolph.

— Elizabeth Giles

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers Blogging Team @ YALSA's The Hub.