Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

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About the Book

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…

 

My Thoughts

Full Disclosure is a brilliant novel about what it is to be a teenager living with HIV. Simone contracted HIV from her birth mother so she has lived her whole life with it. She takes her antiretroviral medication every day and she goes for regular check-ups at the hospital. She lives her with two dads and now she’s at the age where she might start dating they’re concerned about how she will deal with that along with HIV. Simone has already had to move schools when everyone found out about her medical status and her dads understandably want to protect her.

This is such a brilliant book that really explores what it must be like to have had a diagnosis your whole life and to have managed it well, only to reach an age where you’re thinking of boyfriends and perhaps becoming sexually active and all of a sudden it’s an issue you have to confront. Simone worries about how she would tell a boy, and if it would put them off her. She worries at which stage of a relationship she would have to start the conversation. I loved that she comes across as really mature in many ways but also as an ordinary teenage girl who fancies boys and hangs around with her friends.

Simone is shocked to find out that the boy she fancies likes her back and they end up going on a date. Her friends are so happy for her until she starts putting him first and they feel left out and let down. So Simone is dealing with all of this when she gets a note threaten to expose her medical status if she doesn’t break up with her boyfriend. She has no idea who could have written it but it sends her into a tailspin and she doesn’t know who she can trust or who she can turn to.

I loved this book, it’s so well-written and it’s full of diversity. The characters are diverse but none feel like they are there for the sake of diversity, all are there and we learn about them in a very matter of fact way – just like in real life. I really appreciated that there aren’t any token characters, there is just a mix of people as in any social group.

Full Disclosure is a book for everyone, it really brings awareness about living with HIV in such a believable way. This book impacted me in a similar way to The Hate U Give, it’s a great read that makes you think and it stays with you after you’ve read it.

 

I wrote a post pairing fiction books with non-fiction this week and I included Full Disclosure so if you’d like to find more books about HIV please read my post here.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Full Disclosure is out now and available here.

#BookReview: The Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

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About the Book

What if you could spend one last day with someone you lost?

One day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts.

The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.

Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

My Thoughts

This is an incredibly moving novel about bereavement and finding your way through grief. Carver sent a text to his friend, and this led to the car accident that killed his three best friends and now he has to find a way to live with that.

I have to be honest and say that I found it a bit far-fetched that someone who sent a text could potentially be held legally responsible for the death of the person who read that text whilst they were driving and died in an accident as a result. This jarred with me and made it difficult to get into this book. However, once I put that to one side and focused on what the book was really about I found it such a heartbreaking read.

I lost my best friend when I was just a little older than Carver, and it’s so hard to process that someone so young can just be gone. I felt such empathy for Carver, and his thoughts through his grieving process were so real and raw to me. The descriptions of grief are so well written and absolutely believable.

Carver and the Nana of one of his friends decide to hold a goodbye day – where they spend a day together doing the things that each of them had enjoyed with Blake, and sharing their memories. I think this is such a wonderful idea, a dedicated time to share things – it must be a very emotional but ultimately cathartic experience.

Carver then holds a goodbye day with the parents of his other two friends who were killed. Each of the three days show the different ways that people grieve after losing a child – the devastation, the anger, the hurt. It’s palpable in places. I found the goodbye day Carver spends with Mars’ dad to be the most emotional and affecting.

Through the course of the novel Carver works through all of the feelings that come with grief, and the over-riding emotion is loneliness and this broke my heart. I remember that feeling so well, and it’s such a hard thing to come through. Once you lost someone you’re so close to you can never be the same person again, you just have to learn to be ok with the loss of them and the loss of the part of you that they took with them.

This book ultimately is a book about redemption, about how we atone for the things we’ve done wrong, or are perceived to have done wrong. It’s a book about the depths of grief, but our ability to recover and to find a way through the pain. I highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

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Jeff Zentner lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

Now he writes novels for young adults. He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.

He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.