Review: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
- Genre: YA contemporary
- Publisher: Knopf
- Publication date: October 29, 2019
In a community that isn’t always understanding, an HIV-positive teen must navigate fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love–and lust–for the first time. Powerful and uplifting, Full Disclosure will speak to fans of Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon.
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…
Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Netgalley.
First of all, I want to issue a little disclaimer that I’m a huge admirer of Cam, the author. I’ve followed her on Twitter for years and while she’s a bit younger than me, I’ve looked up to her thoughtful writing about pop culture, and she was really the first person to show me that teens (like me at the time, like the students I will teach) can have a writing career and presence online, instead of just awkwardly waiting to turn 18 and graduate or something like I did. (I mean, I tried, but it was rather anonymous and I didn’t talk about it to people in my life). Anyway, enough gushing. When she sold a YA book, I was super happy and knew I would read it when it came out, and then I got the ARC for it so here we are.
I think Full Disclosure can be labelled as an “issue” book, which is disingenuous for two reasons: 1) there are very very few (if any) books out (not just YA) about people living with HIV in the modern day with our modern medical knowledge/abilities, and 2) I think that label has the connotation of a very serious, sad book without other dimensions outside the issue. Yes, this book is very informative about the reality of being HIV+ today. But it’s also got a super cute romance, joyful moments of just being a teenager (especially the very last scene), and lots of musical references. This is definitely a theatre kid book–Simone is the new student director of RENT (the most appropriate musical in this case), and not all the actors like her feedback.
I appreciated that while there is a romance, Simone’s world still heavily involves her two best friends and her two fathers, because those aspects of your life don’t and shouldn’t change when you enter a new relationship. Sure, there are rocky moments along the way, especially with her friends. I also loved that Simone is questioning her sexuality but because of media and her friends (who are bisexual and an ace lesbian, I believe) who run the school’s GSA, she isn’t sure if she “counts” because she’s really only liked on girl. It was very realistic and something I don’t often see, and it resolved well.
I have to admit, I was invested in Simone’s relationship with Miles and her friends and how her HIV status affected those interactions and her emotions that I didn’t find the overall “plot” of this book–that someone is threatening to expose her status by leaving notes in her locker–very necessary. Mysterious notes is also a plot I’ve seen before–and don’t get me wrong, those are some of my favorite books–but it didn’t seem necessary here. BUT. The payoff knocked my socks off. The note-writer has such human and complex motivations, and Simone’s emotional journey made the book so much more powerful.
Bonus: Apparently in this book’s universe, there is no Cats movie. Bless.